First Look: One of Melbourne’s Best Pie Shops, Wonder Pies & Deli, Arrives in Collingwood

Written for Broadsheet

Collingwood’s hole-in-the-wall gnocchi joint Good Gnocchi was around for a good time, not a long time. After its lease expired in December, the Langridge Street shop lay dormant.

But as of March, pillowy potato pasta has been swapped out for buttery, golden pastry as Wonder Pies & Deli moved in.

It’s by Scottish-born chef Raymond Capaldi – who’s cooked at London’s Dorchester Hotel, the Sofitel in Melbourne (where he started the Academy Sofitel cooking school), Richmond’s Fenix (which he co-owned with Gary Mehigan), and Fitzroy North cafe Marmalade & Soul – and his partner, PR consultant Jodi Crocker.

In 2017, Capaldi swapped white-linen tablecloths for a factory, and launched wholesale pie business Wonder Pies. In 2018 he opened a his first pie shop, Wonder Pies & Deli, in the CBD.

Now Capaldi brings the quirk and colour of the city eatery to a second spot in Collingwood. “I love this little area,” he says. “And the way the shop looked, and how we could do it up … but keep the magic in it.”

The glow from a neon “Pielicious” sign bounces off the room’s glass surfaces and white subway tiles, and wooden stadium seating and inbuilt tables allow for quick pit stops.

In the cabinet is a plethora of pies. The Nice & Cheesy Does It is filled with macaroni, bechamel, cheddar, mustard and Cheezels, while the Piesagne has layers of pasta, wagyu beef and bechamel. One comes filled with confit duck and an orange-infused sauce; another is made with butter chicken, big on ginger and masala. If you’re stopping by in the morning, go the breakfast pie, which is filled with free-range eggs, smoked bacon and cheddar.

There’s also a plant-based mince, carrot and potato pie for vegans, but traditionalists will still find chunky beef and gravy pies; classic, beef-and-lamb sausage rolls; and a Cornish pastie with braised beef, potato and vegetables.

Capaldi’s pies are sturdy – his recipe has been tried and tested, with a light shortcrust pastry on the bottom and a crispy rough-puff pastry on top, so when you take a bite it won’t collapse and crumble in your hands. The pastry is made using organic flour, and vegetable oil instead of butter, so the pie cases are all vegan.

As at the original, there are vibrant salads here – think brown rice, pesto, pomegranate and sunflower seeds; or pickled beetroot, za’taar and dill – and Capaldi says the CBD location acted as a testing ground for Collingwood.

“We’ve learned with the traditional beef [pie], there’s a certain type of person that likes mince pies – not chunky,” he says. “Even though it’s a really good chunky pie, they go, ‘You know what, I like my mince pie.’ So, we’ve brought [a mince pie] on.”

Capaldi recently employed two pastry chefs, and they’ve filled the dessert cabinet with house-made, jumbo-size chocolate Royals; Gaytime doughnuts with salted-caramel icing; and jam-doughnut bread and butter pudding.

A take on the classic vanilla slice is more like a mille-feuille (a delicate, layered French pastry) with the vanilla custard encased in the centre.

“We just wanted to make sure that every cake we do is nostalgic, with a little twist in flavours that people are not expecting,” Capaldi says.

You can pick up charcuterie, terrines and pickled vegetables, and take-home meals too, such as Wagyu lasagne; truffle-flecked mac and cheese; and the Wonder Box, which serves four and includes a family-size pie, buttery mash, confit carrots, salad and apple pies with custard for $99.

In light of Melbourne’s renewed stage-three lockdown, Wonder Pies & Deli Collingwood is open for takeaway only, and the factory, located at 4b Kim Close, Bulleen, is open to the public, too, Monday to Saturday. The city store is currently closed.

Wonder Pies & Deli
128 Langridge Street Collingwood
03 9416 3713

Hours:
Mon to Fri 9am–4pm
Sat & Sun 9am–2pm

wonderpies.com.au

First Look: A Wonder-Full Pie Shop and Deli Opens in the CBD

Written for Broadsheet Melbourne

At the top of Little Lonsdale Street, on the fringe of the Carlton Gardens and in the shadow of towering apartment and office blocks, there’s a tiny, colourful eatery. It’s a destination pie shop selling a small range of deli items and take-home meals.

Wonderpop & Deli’s bright interior is full of playful details. A pie “museum” in the front window displays individual pies encased in glass domes. The glow from a neon “Pielicious” sign bounces off the room’s many glass surfaces, and above the serving bench, branches hang from the roof – a nod to chef-owner Raymond Capaldi’s old restaurant Hare & Grace, which had branches hanging from the ceiling. “[We] kept these just here for a little bit of nostalgia,” says Capaldi.

A collection of clocks on the right-side wall display the current time in New York, London, Greece and Japan. “We’ve got friends in Athens who have a pie shop, I’ve got a friend in London who has a pie shop … they’re basically to tell you [that] there’s a ‘pie time’ all over the world,” Capaldi says.

By the window, wooden stadium seating and inbuilt tables allow for quick pit stops. It’s the ideal spot for people-watching, or peering over at Capaldi and the kitchen team prepping.

Scottish-born Capaldi has an impressive CV; he’s cooked all over the world in kitchens including London’s Dorchester Hotel, the Hotel Sofitel in Melbourne (where he started the Sofitel Cooking Academy), Richmond’s Fenix (where he was co-owner), and Fitzroy North cafe Marmalade & Soul. About a year ago, though, Capaldi swapped the white-linen tablecloths of glamorous restaurants for Wonder Pies, a wholesale pie business run from a factory in Bulleen in Melbourne’s north-east.

While delivering five-hour beef brisket and butter-chicken pies to restaurants around the country, Wonder Pies unintentionally became a destination for retail customers. So, together with co-owners Jodi Crocker and Dean Joseph, Wonderpop & Deli was born.

Capaldi’s pie recipe has been tried and tested so that when you take a bite it won’t collapse and crumble into your hands. Each one has a light shortcrust pastry on the bottom and a crispy rough puff pastry on top. The pastry is made using organic flour, and vegetable lard instead of butter, so the pie cases are vegan. But Capaldi insists it’s not a high-end shop. “We’re not gourmet,” he says. “It’s just a good pie.”

Some varieties are undoubtedly a little bit fancy, though. A confit duck pie with parsnip, honey and coffee jus can be found alongside the pie-au-feu, a take on the traditional French beef stew pot-au-feu, with chunky beef and a rotating mix of greens. There’s also a mac’n’cheese pie, a vegetarian cauliflower and cheese version, and a vegan pie made with vegetable mince, nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon.

A traditional apple pie made from raw and cooked apple and peppered with raisins is based on a recipe handed down by Capaldi’s Scottish grandmother. There’s also a rhubarb and liquorice version with geranium syrup and a frangipani base.

The pie-centric à la carte menu is prepared in-store and includes pancake pies (pancake batter cooked in pie moulds) filled with banana and custard, and “pieschetta” (bread made from pie crusts, topped with zaatar, tomatoes and cracked pepper). On tables there’s a house-made spicy ketchup and a thick, smooth caramelised-onion sauce. A range of toasties are currently in the works too, but Capaldi doesn’t want to rush these out.

“It’s a life crisis when you get a bad toastie,” he says, laughing.

Above the cabinet, there are large jars filled with giant marshmallows, meringues, crunchy honeycomb and beautiful cakes. The Gucci by Gucci is the first of a rotating weekly doughnut, stuffed with vanilla custard and topped with raspberries, rose petals and dried apples, best served next to a Code Black coffee.

The deli cabinet has charcuterie, terrines, pickled vegetables, salads and take-home meals.

Wonderpop & Deli 
18 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne 
(03) 9639 5515

Hours: 
Mon to Fri 6.30am–5pm

wonderpopanddeli.com.au