Hearth Pizza and Small Plates

Licensed/BYO $-$$   Hat iconHat icon
37 Montpelier Retreat, Battery Point
03) 6223 2511; www.hearthpizza.com.au
Open: dinner and takeaway pizzas Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 4.00pm, Friday and Saturday from midday. Takeaways.

Hearth is the reincarnation of what was Monty’s on Montpelier. It is still owned by chef, Terry Clark and his partner, Lucy Chambers, still has the same cozy atmosphere with subdued music and crackling open fires, Chambers provides the same delightful service and, while the food is now different, Hearth is as enjoyable as Monty’s ever was. When I asked why the change, Clark said that while working in a Michelin-starred restaurant in London, the guys in the pizza eatery below them always seemed to have more fun.

“So I’d always said that that was what I wanted to do. There were personal reasons why we didn’t make the change when we first bought Monty’s. But now we’re free to do what we want, have some fun and here we are with a much more contemporary menu offering pizza and small plates”.

For their pizzas, they cold ferment their dough, hand stretch it and cook it for only three minutes in a specially designed stone-based oven. The results are wonderfully crisp pizza bases, second only to Isabella Lubiana’s at Local Pizza in Berriedale. More importantly, and unlike most of the so-called gourmet pizzas around town, they’re not over-burdened with toppings.

We chose one with prosciutto, mild gorgonzola and preserved figs and another with dried pumpkin, taleggio cheese, lemon and pine nuts. Both were delicious, the combination of ingredients beautifully balanced and perfectly compatible. Other options included green olives, rosemary and feta; prawns, avocado, chilli and basil; and cacciatore, pequillo peppers and grana padano which sounded just as good.
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But the stars of the show, those dishes that best showcase Clark’s talent and Hearth’s understated and refined excellence, are the dozen or so small plate combinations.

Our small plate of smoked bone marrow, potato fondants and smoked paprika on a puddle of baba ganoush, and with the bone marrow mellow but not melted, was a triumph of precision cooking and perfect pairing. As was a Sicilian-inspired dish of tender octopus and fennel,the flavours cut and sharpened by orange and dill. Pork belly and jowl combined with Brussel sprouts, pickles and grain mustard was one of the better examples of the many pork belly creations around town.
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Then followed a lovely, rustic dish of creamy Jerusalem artichokes and potatoes brightened with kale and grapefruit.

We gave offerings such as BBQ’d beef short rib, smoked salmon and a deliciously sounding dish of beetroot, candied nuts, goat’s curd and onion a miss knowing we’d be back.

But we couldn’t finish without trying the desserts, a comfort food apple crumble with butter ice cream and a chocolate parfait with hazelnuts, malt and sheep’s yoghurt sorbet.

The cheese selection and wine list are smaller but no less inviting than in the days of Monty’s, there’s a good selection of craft beers, reasonable BYO wine corkage and you can have your pizza as a takeaway if you like.

Pizzas $6.00 to $22.00; marinated olives $7.00; oysters $3.50; small plates $13/$15.00, desserts $12/$14.00

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