A Slice of New York in Brunswick Street
Address: 324 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Phone: (03) 9419 9596
Hours: Weekdays 5pm-late
The boys from Phat Brats are back. Not that they really went anywhere. In the eight months since they’ve been open, Fitzroy’s favourite hotdog shop has made appearances all over town, from music festivals and exclusive launches to special events and the People’s Market. But if you thought they were going to stop at sausages, think again.
The Brat Pack opened Shawcross Pizza next door to Phat Brats just a few days before Christmas, alongside their new partner and front-of-house man Iza Dawkins (gentlemen, lock up your daughters. You have been warned). In less than five weeks, the Shawcross crew transformed a dirty old kebab joint into a New York-style pizza place. The name is a nod to the building’s heritage, which dates back to 1900. During the day, the word ‘Shawcross’ is easily seen embossed into the side of the building.
Phat Brat’s notorious vegetarian co-owner, Matt John, is the brains behind the design, courtesy of his studio (The Anatomy) and a recent overseas jaunt to the USA. Matt collaborated with Fixology to custom-make the furniture – including the handsome timber and steel front counter – and TJ Sign Art & Pinstriping to hand-paint the brickwork.
Phat Brat’s other half, Executive Chef Damian Thompson, put together the menu. Damian snagged pizza master Alessio Albano (who’s kneaded dough in Melbourne’s best pizza kitchens, including D.O.C , 400 Gradi, Fire Chief and +39) to show him how to perfect that all-important crust. There are 12 inch whole pizzas, as well as giant $5 slices cooked in custom-made 22 inch pans. Evidently, size matters at Shawcross. If you're a carb hater, there are half a dozen “kick-ass salads”, although you'd be crazy to miss out on the nachos. Whatever, haters gonna hate.
As for the pizzas, the Notorious P.I.G with pork sausage, bacon, jalapenos, mozzarella, BBQ sauce and onion is a gourmet take on your classic ‘meat lovers’. Then again, it’s hard to go past a good ol’ margherita, especially when it’s named after Fat Tony. The Mexicutioner has also been a top seller, piled with chorizo, mozzarella, spicy salsa, chilli and sour cream. Keep in mind there are gluten-free and vegetarian options available too.
For the vegetarians, there’s the Ridgy-Didge with roast pumpkin, hummus, goats cheese, mozzarella and green peas, as well as the Bloody Vegans with hummus, spinach, tomato, red onions, green olives and lemon.
If you're not ready to break your New Year's resolution just yet, try a roast pumpkin, spinach, quinoa, pine nuts, goats cheese and cherry tomato salad, or perhaps one with chicken, spinach, edammame, avocado, quinoa and red onion.
Make sure you abide by the pizza rule (eat one less slice than you think you can manage) so you have room for dessert. The aptly named Sticky Icky Icky is the house's Nutella calzone served with fresh strawberries and Jock's vanilla bean ice cream, while the Sundae Bloody Sundae is a classic; cherry on top and all.
Shawcross is the perfect spot for a quick and affordable meal, but that doesn't mean they stinge on quality. The ingredients are house-made or local wherever possible, and you can taste the difference. Call ahead and order takeaway for a big night in, or sit outside with a brewski and watch the characters stream down Brunswick Street in moustaches, tattoos and their generally entertaining hipster aura. Shawcross is planning a delivery service to be up and running by the end of the month. There’s even St ALi specialty coffee and a neon pizza sign. But if you’re still not sold, Shawcross Pizza is BYO until they get their liquor license, after which you'll be able to drink craft brews and wine by the bottle or glass until you're hungry enough for a second round at Phat Brats.
DISCLAIMER: As some readers know, Shawcross and Phat Brats are close to my heart, so please consider this a preview rather than a review. Nevertheless, I know more than most how hard these boys strive for quality and consistency.