Melbourne's sister city is Milan, which makes sense because despite the long distance from Prada's hometown, Melbourne claims the chic, moody, low-lit laneway title of being the 'Europe' of Australia. Home to Italian dining district 'Little Italy' and rumoured first city outside Europe to have an espresso machine, Melburnians twirl a mean linguine fusing authentic age-old flavours with new world nous. Read on for the perfect pasta currently plated up in Melbourne:
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1. Grossi Florentino, grossiflorentino.com
If restaurants were movie stars, Upstairs at Grossi Florentino would be Italian silver screen siren Sophia Loren. Embodying the glamour and decadence of the Italian film starlet, Grossi Florentino has looks, a warm heart and a stylish suitcase full of history. The space occupied by Grossi Florentino has been a dining destination since 1897, and its current incarnation is haute Italian dining at its brightest. Sixteenth-century scenes adorn the walls, chandeliers hang from the vaulted ceilings, and steaming hot plates of Italian delicacies sit on the white clothed tables. The menu is run by a rule of five: five antipasti, five primi, five secondi, five dolce. Save space for the chocolate soufflé - it's a winner.
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2. Centonove, centonove.com.au
Claiming a chic light-filled corner of Kew, Centonove feels local but tastes global. Executive chef Patrick Fletcher travelled throughout Italy to learn firsthand how pasta rolls in each distinctive Italian region. Fletcher brings this know-how and passion for seasonal Italian cuisine to the table; the extensive menu features flavours to suit all tastebuds. Starters include beef-lovers favourite Carpaccio and cheese connoisseur's choice Burrata. Or, skip directly to the mains and order the Spanner Crab Spaghettini. Their huge, award-winning wine cellar means your dish will have the perfect drink date, too.
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3. Cecconi's, cecconis.com
This low-fi laneway favourite marries contemporary Italian flavours with a luxe-club atmosphere and a mod take on sustainable restauranturing. Owned by prominent Melbourne dining family the Bortolotto's, head chef Daniel Kranjcic deftly dishes up artfully executed fresh and seasonal Italian delights. In fact, it's so fresh, vegetables are grown locally on the family farm. Along with pastas, meats, and farm-fresh sides, their standout dish is undoubtedly the Linguine Seafood. Dining with a conscience, Cecconi's aims for a 70 per cent recycle rate on all their fresh and dried produce, packaging and glass.
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4. The Grand, grandrichmond.com.au
This is pub gastronomy - Italian style. Head chef duo Federico Frigato and Mattia Aloisio bring serious European culinary cred to Melbourne - they boast Michelin training and have worked in some of the continent's best Italian restaurants. Focusing on simple, authentic eats made with top-notch ingredients, this loved-up local beats with a welcoming Italian heart. The menu includes Italian staples such as Insalate Caprese (buffalo mozzarella salad), pasta, risotto, and not-for-the-faint-hearted Roast Duck. Eat up.
5. Café Di Stasio, distasio.com.au
Café De Stasio is the benevolent Italian godfather of the Melbourne Italian dining scene, sans the gunplay. Opened 25 years ago by affable Neapolitan restaurateur, Rinaldo 'Ronnie' Di Stasio, it's an old-world, elegant Italian located in the heart of street art suburb Fitzroy. Dishing up classic comfort eats like Lasagne con Primaverile (homemade pasta with tomato, mozzarella, and basil) and Porchetta con Mela (oven roasted suckling pig with baked apple) and Tiramisu (Tuscan trifle of sponge, coffee, and mascarpone), you'll leave this Italian diner delightfully stuffed full.