Thirty Eight Chairs
The lactose intolerant best look away.
Thirty Eight Chairs has something especially comforting to it. It may be the warm bread that lands on your table straight after ordering, or the five types of pasta on the menu. Or it might has something to do with the hospitable waitstaff who take their time to entertain their guests, as opposed to plonking plates onto tables and leaving faster than you can say grazie.
The team here are experienced, having dished out Italian food in South Yarra for years already. Constantly flying out of the corner of the restaurant are salumi boards piled with cured meats such as a 24-month aged prosciutto di Parma and porchetta arrosto — that is, roasted, rolled suckling pig. These all make for great grazing, but we suggest you visit for dinner for a complete course of their Italian cuisine.
Pasta remains the frontrunner at Thirty Eight Chairs — they call themselves a pasta bar, so it's unsurprisingly the dish works its way onto most diners' dockets. The pappardelle duck ragu in Napoli sauce remains a crowd favourite for good reason — the combination of pork and beef create an eruption of flavour ($35).
The monstrous wine list can be a little overwhelming, so we urge you to put your faith in the waitstaff, who are extremely well-versed with what wine will best accompany your food. The Gibele (a Moscato) from Sicilian winery Duca di Castelmonte matches almost anything — dry and aromatic, yet soft.
And if you find a slither of room in that stomach for dessert, we suggest tiramisu ($18), which achieves the perfect amount of sweetness, instead of being drowned in coffee.
The volume of the space makes for a fantastic dining experience, hosting "about 38" chairs inside a high-ceilinged room. It's refreshing to feel comfortable, and not suffocated by dozens of tables in a space that simply can't take them.