We’re pretty excited about this place. Partly because it does some of the best pasta we’ve ever eaten, but mostly because it’s about 100m from Urban List HQ. Carbs come at us.
Welcome to Ms Frankie, the newest contender for the title of Best Pasta In Melbourne. Now we know what you’re thinking: it’s gonna take some sort of super-human pasta-making machine to steal the crown from Tipo 00. Well that’s where Ms Frankie’s professional sfoglina comes in. Her name is Piera Pagnoni, a Bologna Nonna who’s been making pasta by hand since she was six. There is literally nothing this lady doesn’t know about pasta (you should have seen her face when we asked if Bolognese tastes better with lots of tomato passata...)
Ms Frankie isn’t trying to cover every Italian base. It’s more curated than that. This is a contemporary, A-Grade cocktail and pasta bar. The pasta is made by hand in a glass-enclosed, temperature controlled booth. You can even sit up at the bar and watch Piera do her thing through the glass. There’s a few crazy-good starters too—artisan salumi boards, Roman-style roast porchetta, or maybe some gooey Buratta, drizzled in extra virgin. Subtle little entrees that pave the way for the main course: pasta.
Now there are a few ways you can do this. Traditionalists will gravitate towards the Bolognese, but there’s also a wicked Spaghetti Alla Chitarra Alla Marinara, chock full of fresh-caught clams, mussels, prawns and kingfish. The gnocchi ragu is another highlight: slow-cooked beef in a simple red sauce, with a depth of flavour that makes your brain fizz. And as you’d expect Piera nails the gnocchi—they’re pillowy and well-seasoned, with just a hint of bite.
Oh yeah, you want to know Nonna Piera’s ultimate Bolognese recipe? Lean closer, we’ll clue you in. First, she fries up some onion, celery and carrot, then adds the beef and browns it all off. Next, it’s the red wine—reduce that down. Just a teaspoon of tomato paste (she was very emphatic about this). Top up with water, add a bay leaf and leave to simmer. Right at the end: a nob of butter and a little milk. That’s it! We can confirm it’s absurdly delicious.
Add this to your dinner list pronto, people. A proper hidden gem.
Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White