14 Jun Osteria Ilaria, Melbourne CBD
I fell in love with Tipo 00 on my first visit there, and a host of positive feedback for its sister restaurant Osteria Ilaria meant Osteria’s position on my ‘must try’ list was secured.
We book in for an early-ish lunch, and watch the kitchen prepare fresh pasta for service. Although Osteria Ilaria also has pasta on the menu, it isn’t quite as pasta-focused as Tipo 00. We begin with Zucchini Flowers stuffed with a beautifully smokey eggplant filling, and rocket pesto. The Porcini Mushroom Croquettes are packed full of incredibly flavoursome fungi. Also mouthwatering is the Octopus, N’duja and Anchovy. It’s smack-in-the-mouth. So far we’re very impressed.
Of course, we still have to try the pasta here too. The Paccheri with Crystal Bay prawns has a lovely, rich sauce, and the Pistachio and Celeriac Tortellini special with a basil emulsion, smoked chicken livers and aged balsamic also goes down a treat. The pasta itself is executed well, as expected.
The Baby Cauliflower is not as tender as what I’m used to from places such as Miznon, but it has quite a heady cheese flavour from its combination of four cheese varieties – gorgonzola tastes like it might be in the mix.
Finally, we have the Roast Corn-fed Duck with radicchio and hazelnuts. Both juicy thigh meat and breast are on the plate, and the breast exhibits a perfect, light pink blush. The bitterness of the tender radicchio evens out the richness of the meat.
We’re unable to pull out our second stomachs for dessert, but I doubt this will the last time I make a trip here – the food is just too good.