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Firechief - a Cacophony of Pizza Brilliance

Firechief is arguably the best pizza restaurant in Melbourne. It's not your typical pizzeria but sings with the high notes of the greatest opera at La Scala. Expect sublime gourmet pizza and amazing technique using world class methods. Firechief boasts 3 types of pizza preparation. While Firechief exudes a casual dining experience (and popular with groups and families) the cuisine touches on fine dining.

Part of the stable of Paul Mathis, Firechief is housed in a warehouse like high ceiling building in Hawthorn East. This place pumps. Even on a weeknight we were lucky to get a table. This was my second visit to Firechief in the last few months (both times on a week night and place packed). This time I was with my gorgeous wife who has a great ability to appreciate gourmet dining.

The manager Lucas does a great job overseeing the whole operation including Goldilocks the cafe next door. He's an experienced manager in the industry and has shown flair and imbibes great customer service ( along with his staff). The approach is to service and work with customers but not be overbearing. 

Long timber tables are a feature of the room, as well as high celings, and a huge chandelier. One is also struck by the use of yellow features, as well as retro timbers and a red and white tiled floor.

Another highlight is the open kitchen brimming with activity. Staff with aprons hustle around the huge room servicing eager local customers.

Customers enjoy the ambience and the space and the large windows looking out into Hawthorn East/Camberwell. This is a great communal atmosphere.

Paul Mathis does nothing in half measures. He's gone the extra mile to bring a superior pizza experience. Even to the extent of sending chefs to Italy, notably Naples, to be trained in the art of Naples pizza making. More specifically adhering to the exacting standards of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.

Firechief offers 3 pizza making techniques consisting of the Naples technique, along with a twin-deck, stone-based oven and thirdly a modern conveyor-belt version. The important distinction is that each cooks at different rates and temperatures for different results.

Personally I'm a big fan of the thin Naples style pizza. This is pizza you might encounter in Italy (which I have). Cooked at 400 degrees for 2 minutes in a wood fire oven. The menu reflects the names of the great pizzas to be found in Naples (home of great pizza).

My Crudo pizza was sublime, featuring San Marzano tomato, bufula mozzarella, topped with San Daniele proscuitto and basil. One of the best I've ever had - and that's saying something. I love the quality of the proscuitto and the cheese hit.

The Friarielli pizza was also superb with spicy pork sausage. I thought I could detect aniseed in the sausage. The spicy pork sausage was combined with a big cheese hit, with balance from spinach that was fresh and not overcooked.

While Firechief is famous for pizza it does other things well, such as antipasta and calamari and salads.

The Tomato salad was fresh and a perfect accompaniment for pizza.

The Dorper lamb pizza featuring braised saltbush dorper lamb, crushed tomato,  goats cheese, toasted almonds, parsley and mint was sensational. I remember being introduced to saltbush dorper lamb a couple of years ago when we visited a farm to get a supply of this lamb. The taste is unique and a little rich.

This pizza was also thin base style but cooked in the twin deck oven with hand and shovel style at 360 degrees for 4 minutes.

Flavour combinations are enhanced by the goats cheese and crunch of toasted almonds. The herbs also add much with lamb abd mint always a great combination.

The pizzas at Firechief are outstanding and you leave feeling great, not bloated, as the pizzas are not greasy and stodgy. They zing with fresh ingredients and I love the use of herbs. Another good test is that I love the taste of the bases on their own - just the right mix of light and crispy.

Surprisingly the most popular pizza is the Margherita - people love simplicity done well.

The Orange Torta with saffron syrup and mascarpone cream was sublime with a strong hit of orange from the rind. The texture and taste of the quenelle of thick vanilla bean mascarpone cream was brilliant, almost a dessert in itself.

The coffee at Firechief is excellent.

Firechief is popular with cinema goers, although I would come across town to source Melbourne's best pizza.

There is a strong working relationship with the cafe Goldilocks next door, also part of the Mathis stable.

Firechief sings with pizza brilliance and great service. Highly recommended.