Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Grossi Cellar Bar

80 Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000

Do I like pasta? Of course I do. What I don’t like are the huge portions that are designed to break self-esteem with their buckets of cream and handfuls of cheese. Needless to say, real Italian pasta is nothing like that, and who would know better than Guy Grossi himself, the man behind Grossi Florentino, a 2 hatted Italian restaurant in an old European building on Bourke Street.

However, our aspirations weren’t that lofty today. Instead of heading upstairs for an astronomically priced degustation, we slipped downstairs into the warm Grossi Cellar Bar, intimate and perfect for a date. 

Whilst waiting for our pasta, we munched on a basket of herbed focaccia dipped in a crisp extra virgin olive oil, and gazed out of the window at Bourke Street on a cold but lovely winter night. 

Spaghetti Vongole ($18)

I went for a simple yet bold Spaghetti Vongole ($18), which was breathtakingly good. The slippery and al dente noodles shared the stage with briny clams, and were subtly flavoured with garlic, herbs, and chilli. It was drowned in generous glugs of extra virgin olive oil, the leftovers of which I soaked up with chunks of focaccia. 

Lasagne ($17.5)

Lasagne ($17.5)

And the Italian dish that needs no introduction – Lasagne ($17.5). The silken yet firm sheets of pasta were slathered with a hearty, robust ragu that wasn’t overwhelmingly acidic for once. It was rich, wholesome, and the perfect winter warmer.

I absolutely love this place. I know that compared to some other places, the prices may be a little steeper and the portions a little smaller. Then again, I’ve no wish to eat so much pasta that I fall into a half-hour coma afterwards. Guy Grossi favours quality over quantity, and this is some of the best pasta I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. 

Rating: 15/20 – seductive pasta

This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit. And how many hours I’ve been working the past 2 weeks (57 hours).


I liked Grossi Cellar Bar so much that I was back less than 2 weeks later, this time with Ethan for a quiet birthday dinner. 

Tortellini Di Zucca Della Lunigiana ($18)

As much as I was tempted to order the spaghetti vongole again, I contented myself with what was arguably Cellar Bar’s signature dish, the Tortellini Di Zucca Della Lunigiana ($18). The plump pieces of tortellini were stuffed with a sweet and lightly spiced pumpkin puree, and garnished with nothing but crisp fried sage leaves, a slick of olive oil, and upon request, grated fresh parmesan. It was hot, rich, and tasty. 

Orecchiette Nduja ($18)

Ethan had himself a plate of Orecchiette Nduja ($18), and whilst simple, it was vivacious and flavourful. The little ears of pasta were the ideal receptacles for the spicy sausage mince, which burst with peppery, garlicy flavours. It was greatly enjoyed by both of us.  

However, amidst all the praise, there is something I would like to point out. Both times I had eaten here, the waiters have taken my money and failed to return with the change. Not that I mind terribly, given that it’s only a handful of coins, and nothing will stop me from coming back for the spaghetti vongole, but it still strikes me as rather rude.

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