All the benefits of Italian hospitality, and the Ferrari of woodfired ovens.
Italian hospitality: it doesn't really get much better than that. Family, friends, heart, soul and usually a ridiculous amount of amazing food. That is exactly what you get at Itali.co in St Kilda. You also get a beautiful, sleek designed space with floor to ceiling windows and a polished fit-out.
Let's talk about the food. It's highly likely that you have heard of the Nicolini brothers. Restaurants like +39 Pizza, Non Solo Pasta, Carlton Espresso and the many D.O.Cs are among their work, and the latest for Remo Nicolini is Itali.co in St Kilda and Sorrento. You almost don't need to taste the pizzas to know they're good, but it's a good idea that you do.
With pizzas cooked in their Marana pizza oven, a combination of woodfire and gas, you will never get one that isn't cooked to perfection. In the pizza oven world, it is known as the Ferrari. While there are about 15 options to choose from, the Bunga Bunga — a combination of fresh mozzerella, Berkshire sausage, smoked scamorza, friarielli and fresh chilli ($18.50) — and the Speck pizza with fresh mozzarella, provola, radicchio and speck ($20.50) are solid choices.
Don't let the pizzas distract you from the rest of the menu. Starters, mains and handmade pasta are all worth the trouble alone. To start, the panfried Canadian scallops served with cauliflower pannacotta, basil pesto and romanesco sauce ($14.50) is a delicate and surprising dish. The pasta menu might see a tagliolini with blue swimmer crab, wild rocket and cherry tomatoes ($21.50) or orecchiette with spring lamb ragu, organic peas in a white sauce ($19.50).
If you're more in the mood for a main, there are again some pleasant surprises on offer, like the Tasmanian salmon with black sesame, wasabi salsa and vegetable taglietelle and the slow-cooked duck breast with agresco salsa and eggplant puree ($24.90).
Desserts might be too much for some after the generous serving sizes, but if you can stomach it, the Cassata Itali.co, a typical Sicilian sweet made with Giorgio's ricotta and served with a chocolate fondue ($11), is light and really hits the spot. There is also a nutella pizza served with ice cream and strawberries, which is decadent to say the least. The wine list, just like the venue, draws heavily from Italy but brings in some local talent as well.
If you get the chance to chat to Remo, who can be found at both the St Kilda and Sorrento restaurants, you can see the true passion and love that goes into the Nicolini family's restaurants. They've taken all the good parts of Italy and served it up nicely to us on a very generous serving platter. What more can we say than. Buon appetito!
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