Eat here: Lievita, Melbourne – and the importance of a strong father-daughter relationship

298 High St, Northcote



It’s only been really recently that I’ve been noticing how many women have really shitty relationships with their dads. There are some women who grew up without their fathers around, others who grew up with abusive fathers, others still who grew up with their dathers around, but were completely disinterested or disconnected from them. I’ve noticed that the majority of women that I know now don’t trust their dads enough to talk to them, don’t think their dads care enough about them to warrant sharing their problems, think their dads are assholes… every time I hear another comment along that vein, it shocks me even more; I’ve realised that I’m in the very tiny minority of women who have a really great relationship with their dad! This is my dad, by the way – and this is one of my favourite photos of us, because when people see it they usually say I look so much like him, which is pretty cool 🙂

I’ve heard other people describe my dad as very hard working, but quietly so – “you’d never know just how hard he works because he’d never complain about it,” very, very generous, incredibly logical and intelligent, “the patience of a saint, especially with a wife and three daughters,” kind and compassionate almost to a fault, “the calmest person I’ve ever met,” and “such a good bloke.” They’re all right, of course; I’ve never met another person like my dad, and I doubt I’ll ever respect anyone else on earth more than I respect him. He’s been my role model and guiding light my entire life. We differ greatly in many things (I’d rather go and get tattooed while he’d prefer to attend Sunday mass), we have very different temperaments (he’s so much more together than me, so much more understanding and patient and calm, whereas I’m a bit more highly strung and prone to stress-induced freak outs). But he’s taught me some of the most important lessons in life:
– The necessity of hard work and the fact that nothing handed to you on a silver platter is really yours.
– Your family might shit you sometimes, but they are still your family. Look out for them, even if they don’t seem to appreciate it, because one day they’ll have your back, too.
– That you’re better off doing it right the first time than rushing through it and having to re-do it.
– Being angry at someone and holding a grudge is going to hurt you a lot more than it’ll hurt them.
– Work hard for what you want, but when you’ve done all you can, it’s ok to ask for help if you need it.
– You can’t always get what you want; be grateful for what you already have.
– Treat people the way you want to be treated; if you want to be respected, show respect to others first.
– Just because you’ve married someone, doesn’t mean you get to take them for granted and stop saying please, thank you or I love you.
– If you’re stressed out or worried about something, do what you need to do to change it. If you can’t change it, worrying isn’t going to help anyway, so stop stressing out so much.
– Your sisters might shit you, but you shit them (and your parents) too, sometimes.
– Money really, truly, cannot buy happiness, but more importantly, it can’t buy dignity or respect.
– It’s never too cold for ice cream.
– There’s always room for dessert, especially if it involves Nutella. And if it doesn’t, Nutella would probably improve whatever dessert is.
– There’s always time for pizza.

I love hanging out with dad; we try to make an effort to go out for dinner, just the two of us, every few weeks. He’s busy running his own business and making their new home and garden beautiful, and I’ve got a lot going on too, but no matter how busy I am, I’ll always happily cancel other plans when dad asks if I’m free for dinner! I’ve been wanting to visit Lievita for AGES, and dad said the pizza there was fantastic (the man knows good food), so like the good Italians we are, we visited for our father-daughter dinner date last night 🙂


In Italian, “lievita” means leavened, or risen. Traditional, the street food way to serve pizza in Rome is al taglio, served by the slice, in squares. You don’t get round pizzas or triangular slices in Rome, it’s all done by the square slice and sold not as a set price per slice, but as a set price by weight. And Luca at Lievita, after having risen his dough for an impressive 72 hours, runs his business in the same way as its done in Rome; a window full of beautiful, colourful pizzas, topped with only two or three quality ingredients (it’s all about quality over quantity), from which you order al taglio, and pay according to the weight of your slice/s. Amazing. How has it taken so long for an Italian to take their street food to Melbourne like this?!

Dad’s been to visit Lievita more than a few times, so I let him order for us. First round was:
TOP: Potato, rosemary and guanciale (a cured meat that comes from the pork jowl/cheek area) – this one was my favourite, I love potato on pizza, and the guanciale was SO GOOD!! Perfectly rendered fat, heaps of flavour, just magic!
BOTTOM: Cherry tomato, mortadella and parmesan – loved the mortadella all warm and crispy, and heaps of it!


Round two:
TOP: Eggplant, mozzarella and tomato – this is the way eggplant should be eaten.
BOTTOM: Chicory and ricotta – I had no idea something so simple could taste so good. Holy wow. Random combination, not something you’d see in your standard pizza shop, but if they have this one there when you visit, absolutely grab a slice!


Round three:
TOP: Zucchini. Just a zucchini pizza. How the hell do they get the zucchini to taste so good?! It’s creamy and salty and got so much more flavour than you’d ever believe possible for a plain zucchini and nothing else pizza.
BOTTOM: Cherry tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil – again, so simple, but because the ingredients were of such incredible quality, this was just so beautiful… super sweet tomatoes and basil sat perfectly on a crispy bottomed, fluffy dough base.


I’m not going to write a big, long, wordy review full of pretentious terminology about how well the elements worked together or crap like that. This is good, simple, honest food, and it doesn’t need it. Quite simply, this is the best pizza I can ever remember eating. Including the pizza al taglio I ate in Rome. Honest to God, it truly was. The ingredients, while simple, are of the best quality, and the pizzas only have two or three ingredients each – that’s the hallmark of good Italian cooking, only a few ingredients of the best quality will outshine a complex dish with a dozen mediocre ingredients. But the biggest difference, I believe, is the dough – 72 hours worth of rising time makes for the most spectacularly light and airy dough, with the perfectly crisp and crunchy base. No soggy bottoms here.


Oh, and next to the pizza window, there’s another window with loaves of bread, panini, and dolci (sweets). Dad got excited when he spotted a lone sfogliatella left in the window; his auntie makes the best ones, he says, but given the quality of the pizza here, he was willing to give their version a chance; risk well taken, dad. A traditional southern Italian pastry filled traditionally filled with orange flavoured ricotta and often candied peel, this was the best restaurant take on the traditional home made stuff that I’ve only ever enjoyed fresh out of the kitchens of family members that I’ve had to date.


There’s really not much else to say – Luca is doing an incredible job with Lievita, and all of the hard work he’s put into the place has more than paid off. The only way to end this post is to tell you to give your dad a call if you’re lucky enough to have him as a part of your life and let him know he’s a pretty good egg, and then, if you’re in Melbourne, take him out for pizza and beer at Lievita.


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