Get a taste of Italy at these Melbourne restaurants
Transport your senses to the streets of Italy when you holiday in Melbourne this year. The Victorian capital is packed full of mouth-watering Italian restaurants that locals and tourists alike flock to in droves, leaving many to wonder why you'd ever need to travel to the country when the best of its delicacies are right on our doorstep.
Any culinary experience in this city should include a trip to Lygon Street, known as Melbourne's Little Italy. The precinct is abuzz with activity all hours of the day and night, and has a mix of cafes, outdoor dining, restaurants, bars and shops. Here you can sit and indulge in a three course meal, or simply pass through and enjoy an Italian cake or gelati.
Toto's Pizza is a great place to start, serving up old-school Italian meals like pasta, pizza, risotto, steak, salad and soup. It's been delighting guests since 1961 and is owned and operated by the Masloum family, with a takeaway and fast pizza delivery service on offer for those who want their food quickly.
DOC Pizza and Mozzarella is another Melbourne institution. The wait staff have genuine Italian accents and deliver up the authentic flavours of Rome in their decadent thin-crust pizzas. Served with fresh roma tomatoes all the way from Italy and buffalo mozzarella, you'll want to savour every mouthful. For something lighter yet equally delicious, opt for a flavorsome salad.
Church Street Enoteca
Church Street Enoteca greets you with an exquisitely decorated room with linen tablecloths and vintage posters. There's a real sense of occasion here, and rightly so - it's received Hats from the Age Good Food Guide for six years running.
Executive Chef Sebastian McQuarrie provides diners with modern Italian cuisine sourced from the freshest and finest Melbourne produce. Dine on grass-fed eye fillet with an egg-yolk emulsion and capers, or opt for the char-grilled sea bream fillets with tomatoes that can come two different ways. The modern desserts will have your mouth watering just by reading their ingredients - there's gianduja, hazelnut dacquoise, caramelised banana and brown butter ice-cream, just to name a few.
"The Victorian capital is packed full of mouth-watering Italian restaurants that locals and tourists alike flock to in droves, leaving many to wonder why you'd ever need to travel to the country when the best of its delicacies are right on our doorstep."
Head to St Kilda and wander down Acland Street until you come across a discreet walkway that leads you to Cicciolina, a place where dreams come true. The neighbourhood favourite has been churning out classic Italian meals with a modern twist for decades, all amongst an intimate, dark wooden setting.
With impeccable service, knowledgeable staff and an extensive wine list, it's no wonder this establishment attracts huge crowds. You can't book in to Ciccolina and waiting to get a table can take a while, however you're welcome to sit in the bar out the back of the restaurant to sip on some Italian wine and relax before your meal. This Back Bar also serves cocktails and a collection of nibbles, meaning you could even make a night of it here if you can't make your way to the main restaurant.
Walk (or waddle!) back to local accommodation after you've stuffed yourself full at your new-found favourite Italian restaurants. If Cicciolina sounds like your cup of tea, stay nearby at Mantra St Kilda Road, which offers large and fully serviced apartments complete with gourmet kitchens and balconies. Blast your music from the iPod docking stations, update social media with WiFi and broadband internet and sit back and relax in front of the digital LCD television after a long day of eating!
Mantra on Little Bourke is another fantastic option that's in the heart of the city yet still has all the creature comforts of home. Stay in an executive suite,studio queen or one- or two-bedroom apartment to give yourself all the space you need.