Over the years there’s been a sizeable collection of shopfronts throughout Perth that we’ve gazed at thinking, “Damn, that would make a great spot for a bar, or a café, or a cute shop…”
As well as the opening of Hank’s just the other week in North Perth, the opening of Northbridge’s Ruinbar back in January finally utilised one of the spaces we’ve been most eager to see brought to life: the heritage shopfronts running along Beaufort Street up to the corner of Newcastle.
Ruinbar has made good use of the heritage building, maintaining the character of the three adjoining tenancies:
“I just wanted to leave the building as it was, and just inhabit the space,” owner Miles Hull tells us on a wintery afternoon. As the head honcho of Dark Horse Hospitality Group, he’s also the man behind family-friendly pub The Quarter Acre Hotel and East Freo’s waterfront Jetty Bar & Eats – not to mention an illustrious 20-plus years before that includes being the first General Manager at Little Creatures, opening the Alex Hotel and even a stretch at Gage Roads as Head of Marketing.
“These buildings were empty for 15, 20 years… There was a shell shop that was the last tenant in this, and all the rest were empty. They were built in 1903 so they’ve got a long history, and they were all separate shophouses, so you’d have the shop and then there was a little lean-to kitchen and the family would live upstairs.”
Although the name links the venue to the famed ruin bars of Budapest and Eastern Europe, the classic pub vibes have certainly got Australian DNA.
“We’re more Fitzroy than Prague!”
In the past six-ish months, Ruinbar has been hosting a rotating roster of food trucks alongside their mammoth 18-tap offering of beer – but this week sees Hull utilise the fourth of the shopfronts, with the addition of Pretty Good Pizza.
“The idea is that it’s a little neighbourhood pizza joint. I’ve got one near me in Alfred Cove called Jo-Joe’s, and it’s been there forever. It’s literally just a bench where you order and a couple of seats – like Broadway Pizza, Cambridge Pizza, the same sort of thing.”
You’ll be able to order a pie over the bar while enjoying a couple of beers at Ruinbar, or pop in to the store to pick up a quick takeaway – including by the slice.
Of course, the nostalgia will be balanced with a firmly contemporary outlook. As Miles says, “We didn’t want it too high brow, but we did want a couple of interesting ingredients. Nostalgia’s fun, but you want to keep it a little bit contemporary at the same time.”
In the kitchen will be Marcello Segalina, who has been slinging some delicious share plates as Jetty’s Head Chef. In line with the pizzeria’s balance between nostalgia and quality, he’s created an easily-digestible 48-hour proofed base.
“We’re definitely going to tick all the boxes when it comes down to the staple of pizzas here in Australia,” Marcello tells us in the almost-finished kitchen – classic hip-hop is on rotation, and the floor is vibrating with subwoofers we’re told were salvaged from Kevin Parker’s house.
“We’re gonna have one with pineapple, we’re going to have something that’s loaded, we’re going to have mushroom – which will tick the vegetarian box – we’re going to have a vegan option as well. We’re also going to allow our customers to play with flavours as well – so if you tell me ‘I want to have a plain canvas and I want to create something,’ you can choose from the majority of our ingredients and build up your own. We’re also offering gluten free bases.”
Making sure that every crumb of those 48-hour bases are enjoyed, he’s even come up with two dips to dip with any remaining crusts.
“We developed a good recipe for the actual base of the pizza, but half of the people don’t like the crust – so we thought what can we do to let everyone enjoy the whole pizza?”
“There’s the Pretty Good Dip, which has a few secret ingredients but the main ingredient is a good aioli and sun-dried tomatoes. The second one is one of our pizza sauces, which is a slow-cooked tomato sauce with garlic and oregano. Really yum – you could probably pour some spaghetti on it!”
Pretty Good Pizza is due to open this Wednesday, August 10, and is located at 153 Beaufort Street.