The evolution of Melbourne’s pasta scene is accelerating at X-Men speed. A decade ago, it was enough to nail a good carbonara (the secret’s in the room temperature egg yolks). These days if your pasta isn’t handmade on an imported Italian pasta extruder, you’re already behind the Otto-ball, so to speak.
The latest kid on the spaghetti block? Lello in Flinders Lane. This place used to be the famous Yak Italian Kitchen, now refreshed and rebranded, and rocking some of the best pasta in the city.
The name is a nod to head chef Leo Gelsomino (‘Lello’ was a little nickname he picked up as a child). There’s not much this guy doesn’t know about pasta.
“We make fresh pasta daily from sprouted, germinated flour giving it a lower gluten content and higher nutritional profile,” he says. “I have my own custom-made pasta extruder made in Italy, which I used to develop our signature durum wheat flour dough.”
The menu is a step up from your average Lygon St bistro. Think handmade Culurgiones (known as ravioli’s ‘chubby cousin’), beautifully scored and stuffed with potato, mint and pecorino cheese, served with a garlicky slick of broad bean pesto. The baked Paccheri is filled with ricotta and cardoon—a sort of Sicilian artichoke hybrid—that Leo hand-forages from local parks and gardens (keep an eye out for an Italian man with pruning sheers). Our pick? It’s hard to beat the Tagliolini, topped with slow-braised rabbit ragu, Ligurian olives, pancetta, thyme and a dusting of shaved Grana Padano.
Lello is also serving up traditional Italian aperitivo, including sweet mixes like Milano-Torinowith Campari, Cinzano Rosso Vermouth and grapefruit bitters, or the Bellini with Salatin Procecco and peach puree. Perfect little palate cleansers.
Throw in some big-hearted Tuscan wines (the Maestro Janni is a corker) and you’ve got the recipe for the perfect date night. Bellissimo.
Quick note: Lello is closed between breakfast and lunch, lunch and dinner. Check their website for the full details. Good news: the bar's open all day until late.
Image credit: Lello