When Supermaxi’s owners announced in 2022 that they’d be retiring from the game after 12 years of warming the hearts and stomachs of North Fitzroy, it was a black day for the pizza fans of Melbourne. Happily, the story has a promising new chapter: today it reopens as Pizzeria Magma, with John-Paul Aziz from The Travelling Pizza Pie rocking the peel.
The renovation is minimal and maintains the Supermaxi feel, with some updates, the windows unscreened and the room visible from the street. “The vibe is a cross between Old World soft psychedelia Italian cinema and homely trattoria-style service,” Aziz says. (The name and the ID work are inspired by his favourite French prog-rock band.) The biggest change is that the pizza is now wood-fired in a Mesiano oven that stands in a new open pizza kitchen.
Aziz is keen to find “subtle ways to inject some of my Egyptian heritage through the food”, but he says that’s a work in progress, and for now the concise opening menu follows a mostly southern-Italian brief, consistent with the flavour profile laid down by OG Supermaxi chef and co-owner Rita Macali.
Small plates run to panelle, Sicily’s chickpea fritters, with a confit garlic mayo and pickled celery, a plate of charcuterie teamed with fiery little beak peppers and olives from the mighty Mount Zero, whipped cod with caramelised onions, and a fine plate of leaves from Days Walk Farm.
On the pizza side, where Supermaxi leaned Roman, Magma is Neapolitan. The Magma take on the classic Margherita is San Marzano tomatoes, 36-month-old Reggiano, DOP buffalo mozzarella, basil and virgin oil. Pillow of the Pig, almost certainly destined to be a favourite, is topped with stracchino, guanciale, Calabrese chilli, pecorino Romano and fresh oregano, and the Menta, a winning arrangement with echoes of the Middle East in its roast eggplant, red onion, crushed red peppers, mint and pistachio sauce.
The Patron Saint, a vegan option, is laden with pine-nut cream, capers, pickled fennel, currants, salsa verde and lemon zest, while the Marinara is a straight-down-the-line San Marzano, garlic, dried oregano and oil situation with the option to add Cuca anchovies or more of that good 36-month-old parmesan.
Sweet rice fritters (aka fritelle di riso) with lemon curd and bay, and a chocolate mousse cut with sour cherry close proceedings in sweet style.
The drinks list shows similar confidence in its brevity: 30 bottles of “mainly accessible pizza wine”, plus plenty of vermouth and amari.
“It’s a simple concept,” says Aziz. “I loved Supermaxi and keep serving locals.” Hear hear.
By Pat Nourse