We maintain here at The Urban List HQ that a good life is proportional to the amount of pasta you have per meal. Judging by the way Melburnians sprint to their local pasta place, we’d say you’re pretty big fans of the Italian carb too. Life’s too short for bad pasta, so here is your ultimate guide to Melbourne’s best pasta.
The majority of visitors to South Melbourne’s Etto may be looking for a homely, quick takeaway meal, but we pity the pasta fool who judges this pint-sized restaurant based on that. Redefining (read: ruining) fast food in Melbourne, Etto pairs their homemade pasta (made fresh daily) with classic sauces, ideal for an unpretentious hot meal on the go. From thick strips of Pappardelle to flavoursome ravioli, we recommend reacquainting spaghetti MEET ball.
One of Melbourne’s leading pasta bars, Tipo 00 serves refined, elegant dishes at awfully affordable prices. Wedged in Little Bourke Street, the quaint space features dark timber and an intimate communal bench. We could chow down on their Gnocchi Di Patate, a rich dish of braised duck, porcini mushrooms and pecorino, everyday. Penne for your thoughts?
A Melbourne institution for Italian fine dining, Grossi Florentino has been operating for decades on Bourke Street. That doesn’t make a difference to the lines (or wait for a booking) though. Whether you choose to head upstairs for one of the best Italian courses in Melbourne, or leap downstairs for superb, simple pastas done extremely well, there’s no way to go Italy wrong.
There’s a sense of mature sophistication at one of Melbourne’s best CBD restaurants. Nestled in Flinders Lane, Cecconi’s interior is modern, sleek and refined – the perfect settling for a high-end Italian feast. Expect fresh, seasonal ingredients with their linguine, seafood, garlic, and chilli and herbs pasta.
If the name doesn’t scream Italian, the interiors will. White and red check tablecloths, pale dining tables and waiters dressed in smart, black vests gives visitors a tiny slice of Italy in Melbourne. The all-day menu is home to an emporium of food gems, but locals make a (wise) beeline for Marios pasta. Made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, this is the type of pasta for curing colds and foul moods. Expect al dente penne coated in rich, spice-packed tomato sauce if you go for the Penne Amatriciana.
Simple elegance is the go at local-favourite Mister Bianco. The menu doesn’t push any metaphorical pasta envelopes, but it’s the type of genuinely warm soul food which has Melbournians trotting back. Think ricotta and basil tortellini, smoky eggplant, crispy leeks and tomato fondue served in a sleek interior with a side of exceptionally friendly service.
There is very, very little to dislike about Scopri, from the impeccable pasta dishes to the Italian wines. The dimly lit interior is cosy and stylish, perfect for a third date or that long overdue girly gossip session. For seafood lovers, the Tortelli Di Pesce with tortelli filled with prawn and white fish mousse in a tomato and crustacean sauce, is Italian heaven in a bowl. Try to resist licking the last of it (if you can).
Thirty Eight Chairs
As the name implies, there are just 38 chairs at one of South Yarra’s favourite Italian restaurants. Not nearly enough, if you ask us! Once you’ve managed to squeeze through this wiry (but homely) restaurant, stick to the script and keep your beady eyes on the pasta. Thirty Eight Chairs’ Pappardelle Al Ragu Di Anatra with curly pappardelle, slow cooked duck ragu (to die for), porcini and shaved pecorino is a winner. Trust us when we recommend not sharing – this is a breaker of friendships.
Fox in the Corn
One of Melbourne’s recently opened Italian restaurants on the block, Footscracy’s Fox in the Corn delivers generous, simple pasta dishes you’ll crave come winter. Ordering is a DIY game, with three choices of pasta and 11 sauces to choose from. If this choose-your-own-adventure is overwhelming your pasta-loving heart, order the fettuccine with housemade Nap
St Kilda, Glenferrie Road
It’s a case of more being merrier at Rococo. With two super accessible venues in Melbourne, getting quality, lip-lickingly good pasta has never been easier. Serving a killer Gnocchi Ai Funghi with potato gnocchi, mixed creamy wild mushrooms, fresh herbs, parmesan and olive oil, just watch how fast we can make this bowl of happiness disappear.
After your next salty swim, waddle over to Acland Street’s Cicciolina. Home to a concise, modern menu which celebrates traditional Italian flavours, Cicciolina’s bolognaise lasagne (it has pasta sheets in it so it counts), is on par with your nonna’s. Just don’t tell her that.
Home to oversized penne (what genius), +39 Pizzeria serves their signature main with fresh pesto alla Genovese and stracciatella cheese in a cosy, pared-backed interior. Don’t skimp, add the Italian black truffle paste. Penne for your thoughts?
Image credit: Cecconi's via Instagram