Abbotsford local, Brett Graham, had been lamenting the lack of food options available at what was once the "dodgy" end of Johnston Street when he spotted a "for lease" sign on a vacant shop-front. Eight months later he opened Rita’s.
Run by three friends – owners and managers Brett Graham and Rob Lowther (of The Bottle of Milk and Pizza Pizza in Lorne) and chef Daniel Spizzica (formerly of the Stokehouse in St Kilda) – Rita’s is a charming pizza and pasta diner that has cultivated a strong community vibe. Even on a Sunday night, every table is reliably full.
The open kitchen fills the restaurant with the warm aroma of baking pizza. There are two sizes (10-inch and 13-inch), which are topped with classic combinations and served on consistently crispy bases. It's these salty, semolina-encrusted bases that elevate the pizza at Rita's to something worth travelling a few suburbs for, even if you're just taking away. Our favourite is the Bingo Bango – mozzarella, salami, pancetta, olives and caramelised onion.
Gluten-free bases, salads, risotto and house-made pastas are also on the menu. There’s beer on tap and everyday wines available by the bottle and glass.