Sporting a truly authentic cucina povera kitchen — embroidered tablecloths, mismatched chairs and lacy curtains — Bar Idda is the real deal when it comes to Italian cuisine in Melbourne. As its popularity shows no signs of abating, it's best you make a booking and be sure to grab the best seats in the house: the front room, or the window ledge overlooking Lygon Street. Even better, hit Bar Idda on a balmy night and you'll be promised a sunset and the whiff of tobacco from the regular congregation of older, ethnic gents.
A place where over-ordering is impossible, the casual diner-style vibe of Bar Idda is complemented by a shared menu of carefully considered classics and modern morsels. Entirely moreish and communal, order lots of little pieces and find yourself colliding knives and forks to steal the last piping-hot arancino (mixed mushroom, Sicilian oregano, fontina cheese; $7) or delicately sweet purpetti dolce (tomato braised beef, almond, pine nut, currant, cinnamon meatballs; $17.50). Simply not to be missed, the zeppole (potato, parsley, sultana and anchovy doughnuts; $10) are deceptively light pillows of sweet and salty that'll have you wanting more, whilst the agnello (herb and linseed crumbed lamb cutlets, salmoriglio dressing; $22) prove how stunning the perfect seasoning can be. Every item on the menu at Bar Idda sits in harmony with its counterparts, making it supremely easy to order; the richer dishes sit in contrast to light salads, helping to cut through different flavours.
Drinks are complementarily matched and on offer is a range of imported beers and carefully selected wines not often seen elsewhere. Wine by the carafe is endearing and the perfect addition to your spread, proving the true Mediterranean adage that alcohol is to be enjoyed with a meal. Finishing off with dessert — this is where Bar Idda storms home — try the cassata ($12) or cannolo with cinnamon shell and bitter chocolate crema ($4) to have you well and truly on your way to an Italian dream.
Bar Idda is all-Sicilian affair that will make you feel an entire world away. Its kitsch decor gives way to much more than what appearances offer, and its authenticity and sprit of generosity is clear. Here, it's hard not to turn every meal into a feast.