Melbourne pizza tends to come in two speeds: cheap and cheesy or wood-fired, thin-based and topped with delicate, seasonal deliciousness. One style isn’t necessarily better than the other, just like apples aren’t inherently better than oranges (who are we kidding—apples leave oranges for dead).
Hungry Bear falls into the latter camp. It’s a new pizza bar that’s popped up on La Trobe St, a thoroughfare practically screaming for some decent grub. Bear is the brainchild of husband and wife team Candice and Nick Hirons—their first venture into the choppy waters of hospo, after successfully running G-Star denim in Australia and New Zealand. This time they’re bringing the dough.
“We set out to make pizza guilt free. A bit healthier and lighter”, says Nick. “They’re delicious without that pizza guilt feeling we all get. The ingredients are seasonal, fresh and carefully sourced from our like-minded suppliers.”
The menu is a little tongue-in-cheek. You’ve got the Paul Hogan: marinated Aussie King Prawns (naturally) topped with chickpeas, roast peppers, green chilli and lemon. Or maybe the Alpine National Pork: a wicked pork and fennel salsicca, roast red peppers, green olives and fresh basil. Personally, we’ve got one beady little eye on the Holy Cheeses: a 9-cheese behemoth, paired with roast cauliflower, pickled red onion and parsley. Is it just us, or does that make a surprising amount of sense?
Gluten-free bases are available on request, and Hungry Bear will also be operating a little coffee hole-in-the-wall to feed the early morning commuters. The pots start brewing at 7am sharp (the restaurant proper opens at 11am), and you can choose from two house blends: the Polar and the Grizzly.
Drinks-wise, Candice and Nick have put together a smart little list of crafty local suppliers. A few micro-breweries, a few small batch Victorian wineries. Anything that goes well with pizza, really. Oh, one more thing—don’t think because these things are gourmet they’re expensive. Pizzas start from a cheeky $9 and cap out at just $14. Try getting that at Pizza Religion...
Image credit: Hungry Bear