Phat Brats is one of my favourite places in Melbourne. They’ve honed the gourmet sausage to a fine art of delicious cylindrical perfection. Nobody has ever said the phrase, “No, that’s enough, I’ve had too many sausages from Phat Brats”. I’m just such a fan, so you can imagine my excitement when Marg mentioned that the guys from Phat Brats have opened up a pizza restaurant next door, called Shawcross. Bring on the magic.
So we bullied some of Marg’s friends into coming down on a school night, hoping to miss the crazy weekend Brunswick St drunks. Most of the good places on Brunswick St cater exclusively for that drunken market; they aren’t destinations themselves. Shawcross, as Phat Brats before it, is aiming to change that, but without completely alienating that later night market. You can get pizza by the slice, or you can sit down and enjoy a full sized pizza with your friends.
For me, Shawcross definitely embodies that kind of classy takeaway dude food I love. I enjoyed the pizza, it’s not traditional by any sense, but the combinations were good, and I love the crazy names, like Bigger Than Texas. But, the real problem I have with Shawcross, and I thought about this while I was munching on my pizza, was that I’d just prefer to go to Phat Brats.
When one of my friends sent me a couple articles about Shawcross Pizza I was pretty darn excited. New York-style pizza from the creators of Phat Brats? That’s a one liner that can make me drool. I really like Phat Brats and I also have a soft spot for pizza, so I didn’t see how anything could go wrong.
We decided to head over with some friends during the week and pizza was all I could think about at work. I was preparing for a pizzapocalypse. The one time that I actually ate pizza in New York Gerard and I accidentally ordered about 3 kg of the cheese soaked stuff. We went to a pizza place where the size options were “small (serves 1 – 2)” and “large (serve 3 – 4)”. We ordered 2 small pizzas given that Gerard is a tall guy and so can definitely eat 1 – 2 people’s worth of food. Who knew that ‘small’ actually meant about 60cm across? I have never been so intimidated by a couple of plates of dough. Of course trying not to look like we’d accidentally ordered more than twice as much pizza as we could possibly eat we powered through about 1 and a half pizzas. It may have taken us about 2 hours and made me feel so ill at the thought of pizza that I refused to eat any for the next 5 months, but if faced with the same situation again I wouldn’t change a thing. No one likes looking like they don’t know what they’re doing.
What was the point of that story you ask? Not a lot really, other than to say that my only experience with actual New York pizza left me traumatised. My experience at Shawcross was less traumatising but infinitely more disappointing.
At Shawcross you get a choice between made to order pizzas, big slices from the cabinet and some non-pizza options including salads and nachos. While we waited for some of our group to arrive we tried the nachos ($9). They were pretty good, but nothing amazing. Which is fine, it’s not called Shawcross Nachos.
We nominally ordered a pizza each but ended up swapping a lot of slices around. So here, in no particular order, is a random assortment of the pizzas we remembered to take photos of.
First up is the Jimmy the Greek – lamb, olives, mozzarella cherry tomatos, artichoke hearts, feta and tzatsiki ($16). Phew! That was a long list of toppings, I almost need a break Passiona to recover from typing those out. Unfortunately, if you have a look at the photo below you’ll notice that the volume of toppings didn’t live up to the length of the list. I’m only really going to give one set of comments on the pizzas because the same comments applied to all of them (and were confirmed by a number of friends afterwards). So, here goes… when we visited, the pizzas dough was kind of dry, the toppings were sparse and for the most part the flavour just didn’t live up to expectations. I didn’t take a poll of all 9 people who we ate with, but I speak confidently for at least 4 of them when I say that the pizzas were a bit disappointing.
We also tried the Notorious P.I.G – pork sausage, bacon, jalapenos, mozzarella, BBQ sauce and onion ($16.50). Full disclosure, I’m not actually entirely sure that this is a photo of the right pizza. Let’s all just pretend that it is.
There was also a Bigger than Texas floating around the table – cajun chicken, BBQ sauce, mozzarella onion, roquette and sour cream ($16.50).
After pizzas we decided to split a dessert, the sticky icky icky nutella calzone with strawberries and vanilla bean ice cream ($9). We were won over by the name, but could have lived without the actual dish. It was fine, it wasn’t great. We probably would have enjoyed it more if we hadn’t waited a full 45 minutes for it.
Given the choice between Shawcross and the conveniently located Phat Brats, we’d choose the sausage every time.