Ballarat was our lunch stop on our road trip from Melbourne to Adelaide, with a small detour to visit Kangaroo Island along the way. We had no plans to spend much time in Ballarat, but you know those moments when you are travelling and you unexpectedly discover something wonderful that turns out to be one of the highlights of your trip. Needing to stop for lunch, the parking spot we found in town was right next to The Forge Pizzeria. We were starving, and as it looked interesting, we decided not to look any further…thankfully!
The Forge is a real gem. I’d even venture to say that it in itself is worth the trip from Melbourne and definitely worth a stop if you are passing through Ballarat on a road trip. (If you are already living in Ballarat well, aren’t you lucky!). Established in 2010 by brothers Chris and Tim Matthews, The Forge creates amazing wood fired pizzas using fresh local product and cooked in their own wood fire oven. The space is awesome, a bright and airy 200 seat restaurant. Exposed red brick walls have paintings and photos of colourful Venice. It is the kind of space you want to be in, meet up with all your friends or family, set yourself up on a table and linger…and eat…lots of pizza.
The pizzas. Well…this is not an easy choice. My absolute favourite was Shearers – slow cooked Western Victorian Lamb, Meredith goat cheese, rosemary, garlic, spinach, onion, mozzarella and a sprinkle of pine nuts. My mouth is watering just writing this and I still, even after a few weeks, remember the flavours. Australian lamb….yum.
The Forge is also serious about their hot chocolate. They use locally made Gounded Pleasures, which is the decadent creation of Sophie and Craig McKensie.I spent most of my trip from Melbourne to Adelaide drinking Grounded Pleasure hot chocolates at various cafes on route, and they are great. Add to that locally farmed and produced Inglenook milk and you have a winner. Choices included French Mint, Vanilla Bean and Orange Infused. My choice today was the French Mint, made with peppermint oil, it provided a hint of freshness to the dark chocolate without any artificial or harsh peppermint flavour. Delicious!
Verdict: Yes…go…now. The Forge, 14 Armstrong St North, Ballarat, Australia