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FOOD & DRINK

Where to Go When a Big Bowl of Pasta Is the Only Thing That Will Make You Feel Better

For when only carbs can make things right.
By Imogen Baker
September 28, 2017
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Where to Go When a Big Bowl of Pasta Is the Only Thing That Will Make You Feel Better

For when only carbs can make things right.
By Imogen Baker
September 28, 2017
  shares

WHERE TO GO WHEN A BIG BOWL OF PASTA IS THE ONLY THING THAT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER

in partnership with

For when only carbs can make things right.

There's not a whole lot that can't be fixed with a big serve of carbs, especially when that involves diving headfirst into a generous bowl of pasta. A slurp of spaghetti or forkful of fettuccine and life suddenly looks very sweet indeed.

So, with American Express, we've picked out some of Melbourne's finest pasta-slinging spots (that'll also accept that Amex you've been trying to earn more points with), to ensure no gnocchi craving ever goes unanswered again. While Melbourne's strong Italian heritage means the city's not short on Nonna-worthy pasta dishes, this hand-picked lineup sticks to the kinds of places you'll happily land in after a tough day — comfy spaces with atmosphere aplenty and some super-skilled pasta masters working their magic in the kitchen. Next time you've got pasta on your mind, let one of these restaurants sort you out in style.

Got yourself in another dining situation and need some guidance? Whatever it is, we know a place. Visit The Shortlist and we'll sort you out.

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    An Italian slang word for ‘stuffed’ (among other things), Fatto might just be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Faced with this tantalising menu of modernised classics, it’s difficult not to do the name justice. The bar and restaurant takes up a light, bright and cheery space on Hamer Hall’s upper terrace, which means a plate of Fatto pasta also comes with a side of sweeping Yarra views. And, while much of the menu is designed to be shared over Negronis and prosecco, that plate of pasta is one course you’ll certainly want to leave room for. The lineup changes regularly, though you can expect such crafty creations as gnocchi with braised rabbit and pesto, a mushroom and spinach ravioli and a daily rotating ‘pasta del giorno’ special.

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    Hawthorn’s own Venetian-style bar and eatery, Vaporetto, is pretty darn close to the real thing. Here, you’ll leave Melbourne far behind as you step through an old tobacco store shopfront from Venice, and take in the dark timber, marble, aged brass and hand-blown Murano glass chandeliers. Heading up the menu is a strong selection of authentic cicchetti (or bar snacks), while at the pointy end, it’s the diverse spread of produce-driven pasta dishes that’ll capture your attention, all made fresh in-house on the daily. The game plan? Head in for aperitivo hour, followed by a big bowl of comfort, tucking into the likes of lamb shoulder gnocchi or spaghetti vongole.

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    If you’ve made it to Cecconi’s, congratulations: you’re an adult now. A true stalwart of Melbourne’s Italian food scene, it’s a bit like the restaurant equivalent of a well-dressed, well-made man of success. Operating out of a sophisticated space on Flinders Lane, Cecconi’s does its 20-year history proud, as head chef Maurice Esposito plates up top-quality takes on Italy’s greatest flavour hits. And while it may be white-tablecloth stuff, it’s far from stuffy. Trust us — with a seasonal handmade pasta selection that includes treats like ravioli with goats’ cheese, ricotta and pea puree, and pappardelle in a rich beef and pork ragu, it’d be criminal to leave this one solely for special occasions.

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    It’s a pick ‘n’ mix scenario that awaits you at Melbourne’s well-loved Meatball & Wine Bar, where the core of the menu sees diners building their own ultimate meal, choosing favourites from a selection of various meatballs, house-made sauces, and bases. One of those latter options is a big ol’ serve of house pasta, acting as a delicious bed for your pork fennel meatballs and pesto salsa verde, or perhaps some chicken pistachio meatballs, doused in rich, Italian-style red sauce. Of course, you can always stick with tradition and order up a serve of classic spaghetti and meatballs instead. Throw in some cushy banquette seats, warm lighting and a glass or two of red, and those comfort levels will quickly be through the roof.

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    Melbourne’s no stranger to Rosa Mitchell’s authentic Italian touch, as the chef has left her stamp on iconic kitchens across the city. And it’s this flair for honest, regional-inspired cooking that is at the heart of the chef’s inviting Bourke Street eatery, Rosa’s Canteen. With its modern rustic feel, super-sharp service and that trademark Mitchell magic on the menu, this is a place that keeps pulling you back. It’s also an absolute winner when a pasta feast is on the cards. Nab a window seat overlooking the streetscape and dig deep into seasonal dishes like house-made ricotta ravioli with a pork and fennel ragu, or a linguine marrying succulent prawns with a pistachio pesto.

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    While it’s best known as the sole Melbourne restaurant to take out first place at the World Pizza Championships, Johnny Di Francesco’s 400 Gradi also makes a pretty mean bowl of pasta. In fact, the menu here is a crowd-pleaser from top to bottom, showcasing the chef’s gold-standard skills as he pays homage to the flavours of his hometown of Naples. In the pasta corner, you’ll find an oft-changing and broad selection, featuring plates like slow-cooked lamb pappardelle, spanner crab and garlic spaghettini and a homemade gnocchi laced with Napoli sauce and fresh ricotta. A warm and buzzy space, this one is prime turf for group pasta feeds.

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    If we’re talking about Italian dining institutions, St Kilda’s Cafe di Stasio is right up the top of the list. After almost 30 years on Fitzroy Street, the restaurant and bar still exudes a timeless elegance, and is renowned for its sophisticated service and decadent, award-winning Italian fare. Here, the lunches are long, the wine is expensive and the atmosphere is right on point. Headlining the menu is a dazzling array of produce-driven fresh pasta dishes, running from the likes of a classic prawn linguine through to a daily rotating homemade pasta special. Go on, treat yo’self.

     

    As you drink and dine with your American Express, reap all the sweet rewards of being a Card Member. Explore the many ways American Express has your back here.

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Top image: Di Stasio by Kate Shanasy. 

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