To everyone tapping through Instagram stories of friends rudely lapping up the fruits of the Amalfi Coast, we say ‘there there’. No outrageously long plane flight is necessary to thaw out with the decadent wheels of dough and tall glasses of pinot at Pizza Religion this winter.
We’ve all been in the throes of the Friday night pizza order conundrum, when indecision gives way to sheer frustration. If you’re needing a hiatus from your pizzeria locale, jot this down. Touted as the antithesis to your ‘typical pizza joint’, Pizza Religion offers up a new league of carborific yet delightfully unconventional wheels to remedy your wildest cravings.
“As a chef in the industry for over twenty years, I have a lot of experience in bringing together different toppings and different flavour combinations to that of your ‘standard pizza’,” says Pizza Religion co-owner Matt Hunter.
Notorious for the best house-made gluten free bases and superbly flexible approach to dietary requirements, each pizza comes made with love. The menu isn’t too Italian-leaning at all, with a new vanguard of offerings like the Brisket Pizza or Pork Sausage keeping Melburnians coming back for more.
“The Brisket is definitely a fave,” says Hunter. “We collaborated with the Dexter boys in Preston – and again, it’s not your typical pizza, it’s something that’s pretty special. There are over 20 ingredients in the slaw alone. I wouldn’t say it’s fusion – and we are definitely not an Italian pizza place – we just make pizzas that we like and hope that the customers like them too.”
When probed for his personal ride or die pizza on the menu, Hunter suggests chomping down on the Chorizo and Prawn, peppered with jalapenos and sizzling chipotle sauce. Consider it the ultimate winter-warming degustation. And for those really arctic nights demanding hibernation, you can’t go past a relay race of Beef Cheek Pizza with cauliflower puree, caramelised onion, gremolata and truffle oil, washed down with a glass of Wanted Man Shiraz and capped off with some chocolate pudding. Just wear your very-worn-in jeans.
Over the past few months, these guys have even introduced an almighty ‘Kids Eat Free’ Sunday special from 4 till 6pm. “Everyone’s loving it,” says Hunter. A kids Cheesy Pizza followed by the archaic yet iconic ‘Frog in the Pond’ goes down an absolute treat when the whole gang is looking for an easy, finger-licking feed.
Pizza Religion’s dual location means you can choose between the original rustic Hawthorn eatery and Malvern’s more open-plan space the next time those pizza pangs hit.
This brand is a far cry from the traditional Italian trattorias and ristorantes found in the likes of Lygon Street. The dishes at Pizza Religion might be like nothing you’ve ever seen or tasted.
Find Pizza Religion at 493 Tooronga Road, Hawthorn East and 12-18 Claremont Avenue, Malvern. For the full menu, opening hours and more, head to pizzareligion.com.au.