Mascalzone is like a reorientation, a reintroduction to somebody we see every day but whose name we have long forgotten. That somebody is Italian food. Here it is done the good old way, a way often buried in Melbourne beneath a hundred years of industrial development and cheap shortcuts. If you want to reignite your love for Italian food, Williamstown is currently the place to try – just get to Nelson Place quick, because the waft from Mascalzone’s pizza oven is already reaching intrigued noses across the bay.
Somehow, even after a century and a bit of Italians sprouting offspring sprouting restaurants in Melbourne, the occasional pizzeria manages to appear and seem entirely new, refreshing and exciting. Mascalzone in Williamstown is one of those. It’s really nothing new – quality, honest pizza, pasta and antipasti, made from good, carefully sourced ingredients – but it feels strongly like the exception to the rule for pizzeria in Melbourne. Its space on Nelson Place is suave but rustic, lots of exposed wood, dimmed lighting and some funky hanging gardens, the kind of place you’d happily meet a mate or even a special someone for a drink.
The food, though, is really what makes Mascalzone cool. Gigantic curing hams hang in sight as you enter their Williamstown digs, and the smell of slightly charred dough tells you you’re in the right place. From the antipasti menu try 20-month-aged prosciutto di Parma with buffalo mozzarella, then meander through a menu of traditional Italian salads and pastas showcasing stellar fresh ingredients (seafood stars throughout, unsurprising given Hobsons Bay is a stone’s throw away from this pizzeria on Nelson Place), cracking pizzas celebrating simplicity, and an irresistible spread of desserts, including tiramisu and panna cotta that would remind old nonnas what these treats tasted like before restaurant chains got hold of them.
Friendly service and good atmosphere. Nice Italian restaurant with good selection of food and excellent traditional Woodfired Pizza. The best Gluten free pizza base I have ever had!