Had a long day and feel the need to wind back and reward yourself with a well deserved warm meal? Why not treat yourself to the best Italian cuisine Melbourne has to offer? More often than not, meals are distributed over a few courses: you’ll begin with an aperitif as you enjoy an antipasto spread, next comes the primo course (usually a hot dish such as pasta), then you will have the second (a beef dish) using a contorno or side dish. Finish off with a few formaggio or something dolce (sweet) and you will have one molto bene feast. Buon appetito!
1. Osteria Ilaria
What we have here isn’t so humble as an osteria. It’s rustic, exemplified by the entire octopus splayed over a sauce made from the Calabrian spreadable hot salami. On the opposite end of the spectrum, tartare arrives gussied up with a froth of purple Congo potato crisps, eggplant and winks of oil for the red carpet.
2. Grossi Florentino
It has been some years since gents were expected to keep their coats on constantly, but it is great to see Grossi Florentino is a restaurant which continues to sweat the small stuff. The Mural Room is one of the last expansive bastions of Melbourne’s dining attractions that captures the authenticity of European dining with moody lighting.
This pub has an extended marble bar seating 40. And if you’re not the type to be tucked in bed by 10pm, the midnight spaghetti and meatball will keep you occupied. This is no book-sopping gut-buster; it is a twirl of al dente spaghetti capturing a flavour burst of huge, salty, giant capers and basil leaves.