REVIEW Buzzy new pizza joint SPQR.
Grab a slice or two and a cold beer while a DJ spins vinyl in the corner. This pizza joint is serving up fast food that you can take your time with
IT’S the era of specialisation, when the mantra, “It’s better to do one thing well, than lots badly,” has finally come to pass. So it is at SPQR, the pizza-only addition to the city’s bustling Liverpool St, which is delivering some very Melbourne-accented Neapolitan swagger to the top end of town.
David Mackintosh (Pei Modern, Rosa’s Canteen, Lee Ho Fook) has teamed with Tom Gaden (Boombap) and his wife Natalie to serve up pizza by the slice and plate to a young, funky crowd.
This is fast food done properly. Cooking in just 60 seconds in the 400°C wood oven, there’s hardly time to take a sip of Peroni Red before the friendly wait staff bring a calabrese to the table in the small, handsome, dining room.
Pizzas are good. The sweetness of San Marzano tomatoes tempered by dollops of njuda (a spicy, spreadable Calabrian sausage), nuggets of ricotta and a few wilted basil leaves makes for a perfectly satisfying meal for one. The chilli-laden amatrice drapes thin slices of guanciale (cured pork jowl) over pecorino to hot and lively effect.
Bases, though mine is a smidge too wet in the middle, are wonderfully charred. And what the crust lacks in airy finesse of the best, it makes up for with chewy sourdough sharpness.
Outside of antipasto to begin, just seven red or white-based pizza options on offer is a boon for the decisionphobic, while the short wine list keeps drinks on theme. Cans of Nasturo and table wine in tumblers are teamed with Aperol spritz on tap to start, and there is one of the best amaro selections (a dozen or so deep) to end.
With record store DJS spinning low-key vinyl in the corner, it’s none too serious and supremely cool.
In a city filled with pizza joints, SPQR proves there’s always room for a focused newcomer.
From top: grab a slice and a Peroni for a quick bite, the Aperol spritz, and calabrese pizza.