169 Camberwell Rd
Hawthorn East, VIC 3123
(03) 9831 1700
So here it is, my final post for the series of “What’s new in Camberwell from Paul Mathis”. Firechief is a gourmet pizzeria opened just beyond Dan Murphy’s from Burke Rd on Camberwell Rd. It fronts Goldilocks, which is accessible via the laneway.
The place isn’t a renovated fire station if that’s what you’re thinking: the name refers to the taming of the wood-fired pizza stove. It feels as though it could have been one though, with it’s high ceilings and industrial fittings. Like Goldilocks, bright yellow-painted metal beams frame the room, with wooden panels lining the walls and ceiling. Cute design quirks like a wooden rolling pin coat rack appear as at Goldilocks, but it’s the huge timber-and-brass light fitting that really captures your attention.
Bf-B and I have visited a couple of times, and on this occasion went for dinner before seeing a movie at the Rivoli across the road. We didn’t book, but found when we arrived around 7PM they easily found a table for us.
Being a pizzeria, the focus is predominantly on pizzas (dah) with a few other mains and sides on offer. There are three pizza menus to choose from, with each cooked in a different oven: wood-fired, twin-deck, or conveyor-belt. While each cooks at a different rate and temperature, every pizza uses the same dough recipe, which is in accordance with DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta, or controlled designation of origin) tradition.
Mathis sent head chef Gabriel Espinoza and head pizza chef Daniel Barrese (ex Ladro) to Naples to attain accreditation from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, an association established to protect the heritage and tradition of the Neapolitan pizza. With only 370 accredited chefs in the world (and only 3 others in Australia) you know Firechief means serious business when it comes to pizza.
They have a good range of options to suit everyone’s tastes, from the tradition margarita, to the more adventurous pork and fennel. I went with the Capricciosa Classica from the twin-deck oven: fior di latte, leg ham, artichoke hearts, button mushrooms, black olives and crushed tomato ($18.90). It wasn’t bad, but the prosciutto option I had on a previous visit was better. The olives tasted odd, kinda like they were from a jar.
Bf-B opted for the “meaty” from the conveyor oven menu – ground beef, pepperoni, bacon, red onion & jalapenos over tomato & mozarella ($21.90). On our previous visit, he complained that the pizzas were too light on toppings, so wanted something more satisfying. I think this did the job.
I must say I am a little underwhelmed by Firechief. With all it’s credentials, I thought these would be the best pizzas ever, but they’re not. They’re good, but a little pricey. Service is ok but nothing worth mentioning. On our previous visit, we were feeling rather greedy and had the sweet pizza for dessert which was amazing (if you’re into the whole white chocolate/custard/berries type thing..). A cute, local date night option.