Once night falls in the village, we are poorly served for places to eat good food. But last night that situation improved with the opening of The Mad Raven, a gourmet pizza restaurant in Kallista's main drag. The owner/cook Holger has been responsible for several very good and succesful eating houses in the Hills over the past 15 years, including Genie's Cafe and The Firebox, so the Raven's opening was much anticipated by local foodies. We had a booth booked for 8pm, and on a very cold and wet hills night the Raven was warm and welcoming. The decor is eclectic and eccentric, with two very comfortable booths each seating 4 and tables handcrafted from slabs of chestnut. There is also some seating outside on the enclosed verandah where the gas heater and roll down blinds were a necessity.
We ordered 3 pizzas to share: At $21.50 the Morroccan Prawn Chermoula is the most expensive item on the menu, but with plenty of beautifully plump and juicy fresh Australian prawns fried in a (very) spicy moroccan chermoula, it is still good value. The pizza bases were thin and had the right balance of crisp and chew factor. Really in many ways the base was just a vehicle for what would have been an equally good dish on a plate - a spicy prawn curry, topped with a lime wedge and coriander leaves. The second pizza was also a spicy one: The Hot Pesto ($16.50) although not as spicy as the prawn had sliced fresh chili for a warm kick on top of a pesto base, fresh buffalo mozarella, goats cheese and red onions. Finally the Pumpkin Perfection ($16.50) was a perfect modern pizza, sweet roasted pumpkin was given added complexity by the garlic, rosemary, pine nuts, mozarella and sheeps milk feta, also with a sprinkling of fresh coriander when it came out of the oven. Superb.
We're looking forward to trying the Raven's version of a ham and pineapple pizza - the Sweet Pork with fresh pineapple and pan fried bacon; the Lam Boreka, the Goa Chicken and David wants to try the Smoked Tofu parmiginana. All Holger's pizzas are handmade from scratch with the freshest ingredients, so allow yourself some time if you decide to eat in. There are a couple of entrees and a couple of desserts, but really the pizzas are the star of the show. If you're going, don't eat lunch!
The Mad Raven Pizza Deluxe is open Wed - Sat from 5.30 - late. They are BYO only ($3 drinkage) and cash only at the moment. They're at 78c Monbulk Rd, Kallista