Five of the Best Italian Dishes in Melbourne

Originally published on Concrete Playground in partnership with Disaronno Originale.

From wild boar gnocchi to squid ink tagliolini.

When it comes to Italian food in Melbourne, we’re spoilt for choice. Our city has some of the best Italian food outside of the motherland itself — some restaurants are serving classic pasta, others are branching out with regional ingredients (wild boar ragu), and one is serving the best margherita pizza in the world.

We’ve teamed up with Disaronno to celebrate Italian culture and bring you this list of the best Italian dishes in Melbourne. A classic Italian cocktail is the perfect accompaniment to an Italian meal, so toast to Disaronno Sour Hour by mixing 50ml of Disaronno (an amaretto-flavoured, Italian liqueur) with lots of ice, 25ml of lemon juice, 5ml of sugar syrup and an egg white (if desired) before digging in to one of Melbourne’s best dishes. Buon appetito.

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TRATTORIA EMILIA: TAGLIATELLE ALLA BOLOGNESE

Trattoria Emilia is the closest thing Melbourne is going to get to a Northern Italian trattoria, a casual eatery that is just a step under a restaurant. A trattoria is not as elaborate as a traditional Italian restaurant, but the food is never compromised and continues to speak volumes. Trattoria Emilia’s dishes are made up of ingredients hailing from one of the most food famous regions in Italy – the north-eastern goldmine known as Emilia Romagna. One of the restaurant’s most delicious dishes is its glorious ribbons of freshly made tagliatelle, livened by a decadent Bolognese and topped with cheese.

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TIPO 00: SQUID INK TAGLIOLINI AL NERO WITH SQUID AND BOTTARGA

Tipo 00 is a true Melburnian gem that serves up some of the city’s best Italian food. The menu depends on season, meaning it rotates regularly. A dish that has withstood the test of time is the squid ink tagliolini (a narrower version of tagliatelle) with squid and bottarga (cured fish roe). Tipo 00 proves the old, Italian culinary philosophy is that all it takes is three or four key ingredients to make an incredible meal. This minimalism is also reflected in the restaurant’s physical space; slick chocolate timber furniture, marble counters and cool paint tones that make the dining experiences that much better.

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BAR DI STASIO: TRE GNOCCHI ALLA ROMANA (THREE ROMAN GNOCCHI AND WILD BOAR RAGU)

Iconic institution Bar di Stasio (adjacent to Cafe Di Stasio) has been delivering quality Italian dishes since its birth. The restaurant’s charismatic, old-school, marble-flushed Italian charm is exactly where you want to be seated while indulging in some Italian classics. One such classic is the restaurant’s Roman gnocchi and wild boar ragu. What’s the difference between Roman gnocchi and regular gnocchi? Think the Roman Empire — large and powerful, which explains why there are only three pieces in the dish. It tastes just as decadent as it sounds and looks, bursting with flavour thanks to some well-treated boar.

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TIPO 00: CARAMELISED PEACH, BUTTER BISCUIT AND LIME MOUSSE

We told you Tipo 00 was great. Also serving up the sweeter side of life, after your pasta, risotto or fish you should definitely order the restaurant’s brilliantly composed caramelised peach butter biscuit and lime mousse dessert. It honours the legendary Italian combination of fruit and nut, is sweet enough for dessert-fiends, yet not too rich for those of us who don’t possess a sweet tooth. Even if you don’t think you can handle dessert, this is too good to pass up. Believe.

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400 GRADI: MARGHERITA PIZZA

You know this already, but Johnny Di Francesco of 400 Gradi clutched the title of ‘Best Pizza Margherita’ at the World Pizza Championships held in Parma, Italy in 2014. Melburnians couldn’t believe it at first, that an Australian took out this monstrous award. From there, mamma mia. 400 Gradi’s reservations shot through the roof as Melbourne foodies curiously flocked to indulge in Di Francesco’s too-good-to-stop-eating Margherita pizza. The pizza base is exactly what you wish it to be — generous in elasticity, a perfect thickness, all while not overbearing the toppings of Napoletana sauce, melted balls of mozzarella, fresh basil, olive oil and a touch of salt. All of the ingredients sing as loudly as each other, as a soprano in an Italian opera.

Visit Disaronno and mix yourself up a Disaronno Sour — it’s the perfect accompaniment to a classic Italian meal. 

Images: Brook James.

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