Melbourne’s Little Italy has so many restaurants that choosing where to eat can be an enorme nightmare. Don’t worry, we’ve got the good oil on where to find a perfect plate of pasta.
Walking past the spaghetti, tagliatelle, papardelle, tagliolini, strotza prete and gnocchi being handmade in Seasons Provedore’s front window will undoubtedly grab your attention. No, it’s not some Italian Harry Potter magic stopping you, just the power of great food. Step inside. Choose a pasta and one of the authentic sauces made fresh daily, and maybe an espresso or glass of Italian wine to match. Paradiso!
The Olive Jar Cafe
The Olive Jar Cafe, Australia’s first restaurant to serve home-cut pasta, has been in the business not far from Lygon Street since 1967. For more than 50 years of they’ve been making fresh pasta before customers’ eyes, so you know it’s molto bene. They also offer gluten-free pasta, so everyone’s happy, especially after some of Nonno’s homemade wine.
Agostino is the final and long-awaited piece in the newly refurbished King & Godfree puzzle. Their temperature-controlled wine cellar features local and Italian drops, but the cream of the crop is their Barolo. Draped in crisp white uniforms, their servers are as sharp as their food menu. Try the spaghettini with bug, crab and chilli or the culatello (rare salumi) with salted persimmon.
A Lygon Street classic that’s barely changed in decades, Tiamo Coffee buzzes day and night, seven days a week. Many a Melburnian’s go-to spot for casual meals (when we can get a table), this bustling Italian-style bistro does great pasta. Be sure to cast an eye over the little specials blackboard, and note that gluten-free pasta is also available.
Since opening University Cafe in 1952, the Donnini family have become Little Italy royalty. Their fresh pasta shops soon followed, as well as Donnini’s Restaurant, where pasta’s made daily using free-range eggs and extra-fine 00 flour. Can’t decide what to order? Try the pasta trio: gnocchi al pomodoro, tortelli di ricotta con mascarpone and tagliatelle al ragu nostro.
You may know them for their stomach challenging metre long pizza, but Criniti’s also has a sensational pasta menu. Roasted eggplant rigatoni with chilli and confit cherry tomatoes suits those with a sophisticated palate, or munch on a melt in the mouth lamb shank resting atop a mountain of fresh pappardelle when that strong Italian hunger hits. You do need to step slightly off Lygon to get inside – but what’re a few metres between friends who love to mangia?
Hungry for more?
Housed in a handsome Victorian terrace, with a cute little Fiat parked outside, Villa Romana isn’t just good looks. Their extensive pasta menu alone is a feast for the senses. Another top option is Toto’s Pizza, one of the oldest Italian restaurants in Australia. It’s been serving up good pasta alongside their famous pizzas since 1961.