Bontempo Restaurant A Pizza Revelation on Brunswick Street
Bontempo is a fabulous option for a catch up to imbibe the best of pizza (one of the best pizza restaurants in Melbourne) in a modern hospitable environment and - wait for it - reasonable drink prices. The World Loves Melbourne was invited along to experience some of the menu.
We celebrate that a new eatery has joined Fitzroy’s food scene, and it’s already winning over the locals. For those of us from the eastern suburbs it's just a hop, step and jump off the Eastern.
From the team behind South Yarra institution Fratellino, Bontempo (meaning ‘good time’ in Italian) is a smart, modern Italian eatery specialising in quality wood-fire pizza and pasta. We began with this garlic and cheese and herbs pizza - and it was the perfect starter. We loved the crispy texture and the dough made an impression - chewy and airy.
The calm before the storm - we arrived early and checked out the chic fit out.
The pizza dough is distinctive as light and airy enabling it to be more versatile when it comes to pizza toppings. It's still in the Naples tradition so Bontempo can go with a few key ingredients on the pizza as they do for The Bont or they can have a plethora of ingredients such as the Fitzroy.
The team scoured Fitzroy for years to find the perfect location to bring their wood-fired goodness north of the river. It was worth the wait with their current success in Melbourne.
“Surprisingly there’s not much genuine wood-fired pizza around the area,” co-owner Joe Kavanagh says. “We know that if we keep it simple by teaming good-quality pizza and pasta with affordable drinks in a casual atmosphere, the rest will take care of itself.
“Being on Brunswick Street means people can drop in for a casual bite after a long day of shopping, or for a nice dinner. And with the space we have we can cater to everyone, from couples to families and larger groups.”
While classic pastas such as Fettucine Carbonara or the house-made Gnocchi ai Quattro Formaggi (four-cheese gnocchi) are popular, it is the pizza that is the real star of the show.
The staff in the kitchen are a jovial crew and the imported wood oven is next level.
Each pizza crafted with care and the dough worked over.
We highly recommend the 4 cheeses gnocchi - soft pillows with a generous amount of decadent sauce and a sprinkle of herbs.
Joe recommends the eponymous The Bont, with whiskey-infused Western Plains pulled-pork, fresh basil, garlic, sage, tomato and mozzarella. Or the Salsicce e Funghi with pork and fennel sausage, mushrooms, garlic, parsley and mozzarella. The smallgoods are supplied by good friend Mick Nunn at Salt Kitchen Charcuterie in Ballarat.
The Fitzroy is a top notch pizza with stand out ingredients and pizza base featuring tomato, mozzarella, ham, hot salami, mushrooms, capsicum, olives, onion, pineapple and oregano.This is one I would come back to - a Naples style pizza but with a generous amount of ingredients - and it works. We have reached peak Melbourne when a pizza is named after Fitzroy.
The Bont (not related to Bontempelli from the Bulldogs at this stage) is a candidate for best pizza in Melbourne, featuring tomato, mozzarella, pulled pork, basil, garlic and sage. OMG! The pulled pork is sensational - slow cooked pulled pork in whisky and brown sugar! So rich and decadent - and they highlight the pork flavours with a generous amount of pork as the hero of the pizza offset with a few other ingredients. Pork and mozzarella is the perfect match, set off with basil and garlic and sage. Is there a better pizza in Melbourne?
There are plenty of options for the non-meat eaters, too, with the Alle Melenzane (grilled eggplant, basil, parmesan, garlic, tomato, mozzarella) and the Zucca (roast pumpkin, feta, basil, pine nuts, spinach, rosemary, garlic, tomato, mozzarella) early favourites.
The pizzas come out of the impressive mosaic (and piping-hot) Valoriani oven imported from Italy and custom-built on site. The heat-retention properties of Valoriani clay – sourced from Reggello, 20-kilometres southeast of Florence – is superior to the clay bricks used in other wood-fire ovens. For that perfect wood-fire flavour Joe only uses single-source wood from a farm in western Victoria.
For those with room for dessert it’s hard to go past Nan’s Homemade Cassata, hand-made by the Liston family matriarch Nanette using a decades-old recipe.
Or indeed the Tiramisu with coffee, cream and alcohol hit.
We recommend getting entrees or even a main which you can share, some pizzas and desserts for th eperfect night out. At time of writing some of their wines by the glass were $5 or not much more!