Time Out Melbourne

Loud and proud, Baby is Chris Lucas' Chin Chin take on Italian

Before you ask, yes. Yes, Baby Pizza is just as busy as Chin Chin (owner Chris Lucas’ bright’n’brash mod-Asian canteen). And yes, that is a set of boobs and balls rendered in neon lights outside the toilet. As to whether you’ll love the all-day Italian joint that replaces fine-diner Pearl? That depends on how you like to eat. If you’re looking for a guaranteed happening scene, straightforward Italian and Peroni in a can, join that queue pronto. But hear this: Baby is a dining warzone. The staff are pros, but they don’t have time to hand-hold. Not a bad thing, just a warning.

It’s an open plan melee where you’ll be elbow to elbow with buffed and bronzed South Yarrans – either at blonde wooden tables on the main floor, or at the island bar where you’ll have a front row view if any of the kitchen hands spontaneously combusts. It could happen. They're open from 7am-late and in a sadistic move, they're offering take-away too.

Get there by 6pm if you want dinner and don’t let anyone talk you out of the trio of buffalo milk cheeses. A standout on a menu of trattoria faves (take it as read that there’s decent charcuterie – not sliced to order, mind, they’re too busy – and puffy, crisp pizza that does what its told). Fresh ricotta is king of the set – a fluffy heap of creamy curds that just needs a splash of fruity olive oil and fresh bread.

Easy drinking carafes of house wine are a reason to party. As is fried pizza. Ever tried it? The base is pan-fried in olive oil till crunchy and golden, flipped and then topped. The residual heat does just enough to release the fragrance of cherry tomatoes, basil and to give a ruptured buratta (cream-filled mozzarella), a little flow.

Carb-haters, take refuge in plates of diced raw tuna studded with capers, fresh chilli and flat leaf parsley, or the crunch and punch of green beans, fennel and rocket fleshed out with strips of poached chicken pepped up with zesty dressing. Not authentico, but smart in this ‘hood. As is offering breakfast bait in the form of $2.20 coffee.

Food-wise, they're not breaking any new ground. But it's uncomplicated, tasty stuff you can afford, and if your measure of a good restaurant is calculated in decibels, Baby is your bag.

Updated on 16 Sep 2015.

By Gemima Cody   |   Photos by Graham Denholm

Baby Café & Pizzeria details

631-633 Church St, Richmond 3121

Telephone 03 9421 4599

Price per person including drinks Up to $50

Open Mon-Fri 7am-late; Sat, Sun 8am-late

Baby Café & Pizzeria website

Baby Café & Pizzeria map

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