Melbourne’s Little Italy has so many restaurants that choosing where to eat can be a Felliniesque nightmare. Don’t worry, we’ve got the good oil on where to find a perfect plate of pasta.
Watch the spaghetti, tagliatelle, papardelle, tagliolini, strotza prete and gnocchi being handmade in Seasons Provedore’s front window, and just try walking away. 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. Maybe an espresso or glass of Italian wine. Paradiso!
The Olive Jar Cafe
Australia’s first restaurant serving home-cut pasta, The Olive Jar Cafe has been in the business not far from Lygon Street since 1967. That’s more than 50 years of making pasta before customers’ eyes, so you know it’s molto bene. There’s even gluten-free pasta, so everyone’s happy, especially after some of Nonno’s homemade wine.
DOC is famous for its pizza, but just around the corner from the main restaurant is its little pasta-loving sister, DOC Espresso. Will you try the classic spaghetti al pomodoro or a black linguini? The meaty lasagne, or gluten-free spinach version? What about the handmade pasta of the day? Whatever you choose, it’s perfection topped with a generous grating of Parmigiano.
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’s 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.
Just off Lygon on University Street, this restaurant’s contemporary stone and wood styling goes hand in hand with its northern Italian outlook. Pasta is made daily at Cafe Italia, and paired with the yummiest ingredients. Think deluxe truffled mac and cheese, spaghetti with plump seafood, and the rigatoni ragu’s slow-braisd beef.
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 those famous pizzas since 1961.