Ph: 0466 888 145

8/4-6 Gilbert Street
Torquay, VIC 3228
Show on map

The Details

  • Italian
Need to Know
  • Set Menu
  • Great for Dates
  • Dinner
  • Dessert

The outside of a restaurant with people dining inside.

The Verdict

What began as a humble cafe and sandwich operation in the midst of 2021, Mortadeli, run by Jake Cassar, has blossomed into a preeminent destination for the surf coast. 

The newest addition to the piazza-like square of Gilbert Street Torquay is the pasta bar which utilises the deli space and fishmonger grocer that sits just across from the cafe. 

There are still shelves filled with providore goods from Italy and Malta as well a full deli section with various cold cuts, but what's new is the 35-seat dining area with a tidy array of tables and chairs, a leather couch wall as well as a long bar where you can grab one of the backed cushioned vinyl stools. 

The inside, Jake explains is pulled directly from your run-of-the-mill Italian diners, the kind where things haven't changed since opening and the soul of the place well and truly drips from the walls. 

"I want it to look like it's an Italian bar from the 70s and that it's been there for years."

A large yellow bar flanks the centre of the diner, which was inspired by the very same colour of Cisk, a Maltese beer with which Jake has long served next door. It gives the space a familial feel, removing any ostentatious or imposing aesthetic into a homely space that directly references Jake's own Mediterranean heritage. 

The display fridge that holds the hand-shaped pasta is also a new addition and is the whole focus of the new restaurant which has also seen the addition of chefs Glen Laurie and Lolo Hanser (La Cantina). 

Alongside Jake, the couple has channelled the classic Roman pasta bar ethos of the space with an eclectic mix of pasta shapes that grace the menu, from Sedani Rigatti (long tube) with Cabornara, a Cavatelli with chopped prawn, braised cime di rapia (greens) salted anchovy and San Marzano tomato. 

Outside of the pasta, there's also a select range of antipasti from the fried buffalo mozzarella and mortadella sandwich to Farinata, a pancake made from chickpea flour which is then dusted with rosemary and salted onion.

The dessert honours the classics with only three options: a tiramisu, a vanilla panna cotta with rhubarb, and then a selection of gelato while the digistivos are abundant with Amaro Montenegro and Averna both on rotation. 

While the new opening currently leans more Italian, Jake assures there are Maltese accented dishes coming in the future, teasing potential riffs on beloved staples Ross Il Forn, oven-baked rice with slow-cooked ragu. 

"I want it basically to be half, half [Italian/Maltese]" I want it to be like a real Mediterranean diner," says Jake. 

Mortadeli Pasta Bar is open now, head over here for more

Image credit: Nick Watson