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Scorcher reviews: Matteo’s Pizza Parlour — ‘a throwback to the family-run, charming pizzerias of the 90s’

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Matteo’s Pizza Parlour
6 Railway Parade, Highett
Phone: 9555 8812

It takes the disciple and willpower of Buddhist monk to resist the temptations of pizza.

Unfortunately – or fortunately depending on how you look at it – I don’t possess such self-control.

You see, I’ve had a bad winter. My waistline has expanded like a suspension bridge in the hot sun and its bloating can largely be attributed to the consumption of pizza. I love the stuff. My wife too.

So she didn’t think twice when I asked if she wanted to head to Highett to check out Matteo’s Pizza Parlour, a new, friendly neighbourhood pizza joint on a shopping strip abutting the train station.

This place is unashamedly old school, complete with red-and-white chequered tablecloths, black-and-white celebrity photos on the wall, brown-top counter and burnt orange walls.

And when you take your seat you’ll note with joy an item among the cutlery and conditions, an item that should be mandatory on every pizzeria table: a parmesan cheese shaker. A jar of chilli oil is handy too, but the cheese shaker is non-negotiable. Five gold stars for you Matteo’s.

While it opened only a month ago, Matteo’s is a throwback to the family-run, charming pizzerias of the 90s, a time when TripAdvisor didn’t exist and everyone just enjoyed their food.

The menu is stacked with “nonna-approved” classic items like margarita pizza, rigatoni bolognese and prawn linguine. But, also on it, you’ll discover more outlandish woodfired pizzas such as creamy carbonara, smoked salmon with lemon ricotta and a Nutella pizza for dessert.

The concise list of pastas includes orecchiette with broccoli, garlic and anchovies; oven baked gnocchi with tomato, mozzarella and basil; and tagliatelle with mushrooms, cream, chilli and garlic.

The doona-soft crusted sourdough Neapolitan-style pizzas, all 15 of them, are fired and birthed via the hulking pizza oven, which as been imported from Naples, at the back of the diner. The beast of a thing is manned by executive chef Sam Kearney, who is passionate about his pizza. Sam dreamt up many of his topping combinations while kicking back on the beach in Salerno, a seaside town near Naples.

I don’t discriminate when it comes to pizza; I’ve never met a slice I didn’t like. We eventually settled on the house special, Matteo’s, which is topped with gooey burrata cheese, cherry tomatoes, prosciutto, parmesan and rocket.

Our other choice – a carbonara pizza made of cream, provolone, egg, onion, pancetta and parmesan – would probably cause nonna’s head to explode in confusion – it’s literally carbonara plonked on a pizza without the pasta – but we welcomed the break with tradition.

Dame Edna once sung that is was “beautifully quiet in Highett” but I’m here to report that the grand old dame is wrong. On the strip adjacent to the train station there’s Hawker Bar, a grouse little watering hole and a great place to kick off the evening with a cocktail, and a vibrant Mexican restaurant where punters spill out onto the pavement.

And with Matteo’s Pizza Parlour moving into the ‘hood, Highett’s fortunes are set to soar higher. I’m tipping this family-friendly, back-to-basics pizza palace will be welcomed by carb-hungry locals.

And can you blame them? A good slice of pizza is a hard thing to resist.

Check out what Scorcher has been up to on Instagram — @markjdavidson

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