Diners at West End's delicious new Italian-inspired Pizzartist by Holloway are in debt to the ancient civilisations of Rome and Egypt, for it is they who cultivated and popularised spelt, a 5000-year-old grain which is the key ingredient in Pizzartist's wafer-thin, textured and robustly flavoured pizza bases.
Holloway founder, designer and head chef, Raffaele Persichetti, carefully crafts the bases, describing them as a happy marriage between spelt with natural mother yeasts. 'It's a simple and amazing thing, flavour-wise, and we are keen to bring more of that ancient flavour to this area of Australia,' he explains.
Dining at the launch of Pizzartist by Holloway, my companion and I arrived with big appetites which intensified each time the wood-fired oven was opened, issuing a hot blast of garlicky aroma throughout the dining room. We passed some of the time enviously eyeing fellow diners' choices, some of whom opted for pre-pizza starters such as Parmigiana Di Melanzane (eggplant, tomato and parmesan layers) and Insalata Caprese (buffalo mozzarella and grape salad).
From our cosy little alcove looking out onto Hardgrave Road, we also visually explored the decor, for Pizzartist by Holloway is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. Persichetti and fellow owner Martin Gordon Brown have restored this historic 1930s building using recycled and found materials. Hence the floor is a mosaic of native tree slices; the lampshades are crafted from recycled spectacles; and the walls are adorned with skateboards, guitars and other statement items.
With no small amount of gusto, we eventually tucked into the Romanista pizza (with salami, mushroom, mozzarella, parmesan, chilli honey and basil) and the La Mama pizza (with fontina cheese, silverbeet, parmesan, mozzarella, garlic and truffles). The former, with a traditional tomato base, was a bold symphony of sweet and spicy flavours, while the latter, on a white or bechamel-style base boasted a deliciously intriguing, moreish earthiness. When asked to rate them out of 10, my companion declared, 'Definitely a 37'. Perhaps it helps that the superb bases are complemented by tomatoes, herbs and other fresh produce grown in the restaurant's own garden.
Holloway started life as a design studio - chiefly of eyewear and boutique watches - before branching out in April 2014 to add an a la carte restaurant (currently trading Friday and Saturday nights). Pizzartist by Holloway represents one of the founding duo's ever-expanding number of projects and opens from 5.30pm Wednesday to Saturdays. Be sure to book: this place gets busy.