Melbourne, VIC 3000
I love a good hidden gem, and now I’ve finally found one! Located in an unobtrusive alleyway, Maccaroni Trattoria Italiana is a very, very little slice of Italy relocated to down under. It’s cosy with barely enough seating for ten people, and tables that look like they belong to the seven dwarves.
And chequered table clothes! They are so adorable, and so, so underused in restaurants; I absolutely love the casual homely feeling that they give off. The kitchen may be small, but it didn’t stop the tantalising scent of a rich ragu from wafting downstairs, past the shelves of wine and pasta, and into our nostrils. And on the surprisingly sophisticated menu, you’ll find a handful of starters, a generous selection of pastas, and a smattering of mains. There’s also a daily specials board, as well as an enticing cake cabinet out the front next to the whirring coffee machine.
|Gnocchi Mushroom ($13.5)|
Ethan likes creamy pastas, so he ordered a serve of Gnocchi Mushroom ($13.5), which came in a square bowl filled with pearls of pasta, and thick slices of mushroom. This was actually quite amazing, with a creamy white wine sauce that had a fantastic aroma from the simmering mushrooms, and the richness of the sauce was toned down just enough so you don’t feel sick after eating the whole bowl. The mushrooms themselves were meaty, toothsome, and generous. It was hard to fault the flavours of this dish, though I did find myself yearning for bigger, fluffier chunks of gnocchi. These were more like the little tapioca balls you find in bubble tea, though they were perfectly cooked with just a tiny bit of bite.
|Lasagne Bolognese ($12.5)|
It was with great difficulty that I turned down the legendary osso bucco for a slab of Lasagne Bolognese ($12.5), my favourite benchmark dish for a pasteria (if you can have pizzerias, why not pasterias?). A large rectangle of lasagne, still swimming in piping hot ragu, was placed smack-bang in the middle of a large rectangle plate. The pasta sheets were (predictably enough) slightly overcooked, but it was still a great comfort dish, and the excellent parmesan added some zing to the bold, rich flavours. And now I’m hungry; it’s 12am and there’s no food in the house. Darn it.
When it came to paying, they made no fuss about splitting the bill, which only deepened my love. The waitress who served us on that day was warm, attentive, and very very pretty. Maccaroni Trattoria Italiana may not have a huge following yet, so hurry up and get down there before it gathers one, as it seems to be slowly but surely picking up momentum on the blogosphere. Leave it too long and you probably won’t be able to saunter in for a lazy lunch anymore.
On second thoughts, don’t hurry, don’t even go at all – I think I’ll keep this little gem to myself!
Rating: 15.5/20 – very, very little slice of italy