It’s a simple sign outside a simple business: Pizza. There’s no mistaking what’s sold inside.
And because Slice Shop Pizza is in the heart of Footscray, that sign, the neon lettering in the window, and the tiles inside are accented with Western Bulldogs blue, red and white. Beyond that, a marble slab holds a cabinet full of hot slices, and the till sits on a reclaimed butchers block – a nod to the owners’ other business, the meat heavy Burn City Smokers.
Steve Kimonides and Raphael Guthrie were sommeliers at Il Bacaro before striking out together to create Burn City. The pizza shop is a slight departure from the low-and-slow world, but still draws on American influence.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel, we’re not trying to create the new Instagram darling of the pizza world,” Guthrie says. “We just want to do good quality pizza, working within the New York style.”
That means your slice will be large, thin and pliable enough to fold into your mouth. There are seven pizzas and a rocket and balsamic salad on the menu. The truffle oil on the Mushroom will drip down your arm as you stuff it into your mouth. Sweet chunks of roast pepper pair well with Italian sausage on the Pork & Fennel. And if you really want to get cheesy, the New York Cheese comes topped with mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan and taleggio; the latter providing earthy-fruit tang that cuts through the other flavours nicely.
And Kimonides and Guthrie aren’t completely ignoring their barbeque background. Just hours after Guthrie says Slice Shop is “distinctly separate” from Burn City, a special topped with 14-hour slow-cooked brisket hits the oven.
The pair fitted out the shop themselves, keeping costs as low as they could. The centrepiece, a gas-fired Moretti Forni pizza oven, was picked up second-hand, but unused, still in its crate. The marble counter, left over from a home renovation with one edge still rough and unfinished, they nabbed for $200. The butcher’s block came from Ebay and was in such poor shape Guthrie had to take a chainsaw to it, lopping off a few centimetres before planing it down and coating it with epoxy. It’s still noticeably worn from use. The tiles at the front of the counter don’t all quite match and there are worn floorboards at its base. The overall result is a brand-new shop that looks anything but.
The idea for Slice Shop came after the pair, who both live nearby, saw Footscray’s nightlife get a jolt in the arm from bar openings and felt late-night snacking wasn’t in step. Being directly across from the popular Mr West, you can take your slice over the road on a floral reusable plastic plate, and the team will collect it from the bar later on.
Guthrie says this approach is about being good neighbours to the rest of Footscray’s diverse community.
“Everyone’s really tight. All the local traders are really interested, coming in asking what we’re doing, and are really engaged in what’s going on. They want to know, they’re excited, they’re sharing it on their social media too.”
For now, Slice Shop is open evenings and there’s no alcohol, but Kimonides and Guthrie expect the menu to evolve and the hours to extend over time. However much it changes, though, Guthrie assures us there’ll only be one thing at its core: pizza.
Slice Shop Pizza
101 Nicholson Street, Footscray
Wed to Sat 12pm–10pm