Every chef at this Hawthorn pizzeria is Naples trained. Before they’re allowed to flour the Melbourne benches, they're shipped off for an intensive seven-day course at Naples' Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana.
It’s the initiative of head pizza chef Daniel Baresse (ex-Ladro), who has been pumping out pizzas since 1996. Baresse says a true Napoli Margherita is simply tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, cooked quickly so the tomatoes retain their acidity and sweetness. To abide by the association’s requirements tomatoes are crushed by hand and only salt is added.
The authenticity extends to Firechief’s two-oven fit-out – wood-fired and twin deck – which produce Valoriani and Moretti pizzas respectively. The different materials and cooking times alter the pizzas' textures and tastes, making for an overwhelming choice when it comes to the menu. Indeed, there’s something for crisp and thick base lovers alike.
The menu tempts pizza lovers to taste D.O.P.-certified Quatro Formaggi pizza, which only three-chefs in Australia are qualified to make, or, for those less pizza-inclined, there’s also fresh grilled sardines, spicy pan-roasted spatchcock, crumbed pork cutlet and zuppa di cozze (soup steamed mussels) on offer.
Firechief’s interior, which looks like an old fire station (but isn't) is light and bold, with huge yellow-rimmed windows and a red and white checkerboard floor that makes you feel like you've shown up at the park for one giant Italian picnic.