12 July 2023

Five minutes with Elliot Franklin Brown, Pizza Gusto

| James Day
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man at pizza oven

Elliot Franklin Brown, Pizza Gusto Photo: James Day.

Who are you?

My name is Elliot Franklin Brown. I grew up here in Weston Creek and now run Pizza Gusto.

Before I bought the business from the original family owners five years ago, I worked as a commercial diver all around the country doing hard-hat construction jobs underwater.

I’ve done a lot of work in welding and landscaping which, combined with my passion for scuba diving and spearfishing, made it the perfect job for a time.

A lot of the jobs I went on involved inspecting ports, where I’d have to replace old timber pylons in water that sometimes only gave you a few centimetres of visibility.

It was really interesting and paid well, but you really had to chase the work. So I returned home after living in Brisbane for years and decided to get involved in a Canberra legacy that deserves to stick around.

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What is Pizza Gusto?

It’s a woodfired pizza shop that has been in the capital for decades. The previous owners moved from its original location in Red Hill, and it’s still here after all these years on Lonsdale Street, which sees shops changing hands all the time.

When I took over, I didn’t want to change too much because I really liked its old ethos of a casual environment with good quality food. The only thing I did change was the aesthetic by adding to that rustic feel of the brand.

So after getting one of the employees here with a background in graphic design to make a logo, I used my experience in blacksmithing to make a few metalworks that would decorate the shop.

Also, my doing is the outside wooden shelter, which provides a cover for all our customers during the wetter months of the year.

man at pizza oven

Elliot Franklin Brown, Pizza Gusto. Photo: James Day.

What’s a dish that best sums up what Pizza Gusto does?

We haven’t changed too many items on the menu from the original owners. However, our new head chef, Manny, likes to bring in new ideas for us to try out in the oven.

One of my favourite cuisines is mixed Australian, and he has made a couple of fantastic additions to that variety, like the Butter Chicken pizza.

It’s not my top choice, which is the Boscaiolo, but I think it encapsulates the new era of the brand quite well.

What do you wish people understood about your job?

When I first started here doing shifts in the Summer, I saw a lot of people coming through very drunk, demanding a lot of our staff, and having very little patience for mistakes.

It reminded me of the times in my youth when I’d do the same, which gave me a few late-night flashbacks as I experienced it from the other side.

Nowadays, I think people are a lot more aware that businesses are people and they make mistakes, but I do think some customers need to be reminded.

Where do you dine out for comfort food?

I’m a big fan of Banh Mi, especially after a long shift here.

So when I get the time, I head down to places like Ms Ba Cô in Civic to get a lemongrass and tofu roll.

What’s your dream travelling destination?

As a nature lover, I’ve always wanted to take myself to Alaska.

I’d like to take a full day of hiking and fishing there, after which I’ll burrow down in a lodge for the evening.

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What is your top recipe tip?

Keep it simple. Food is meant to be fun, but if there are 1001 ingredients required to make a tiny little dish, it won’t be.

Pizza Gusto is located between the Cellarbrations and Lonsdale Street Cafe in Braddon. It’s open Monday from 3 pm to 9 pm, Tuesday to Thursday from 10:30 am to 9 pm, Friday from 10:30 am to 9:30 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 am to 9 pm (last order 15 minutes before closing).

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