Spatula, Spoon and Saturday

Eating and Cooking all the things in Melbourne

Melbourne Food Review: Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar, City

Pellegrini’s is one of my absolute Melbourne favourites. Very Italian. Very home cooked. No frills. Just a great serving of fantastic pasta and coffee (and if you have room, dessert) and you’ll end up a very happy person. Provided that you don’t get on the wrong side of the waiters and get yelled at, of course.

Rowena came to town. I was tossing up between a few choice Melbourne favourites but fate prompted us and we ended up at Pellegrini’s. What a night! It ended up being the most fun night at Pellegrini’s we ever had.

(Sisto Malaspina, one of the owners, who is also very entetrtaining)

Now I’m in the process of writing up a post on Pellegrini’s How To because let’s face it this place needs a bit of initiation. So I won’t go into details here. But the very first thing on that post will be the kitchen seats are the best seats in the house. So we went straight through.

(Pellegrini’s kitchen)

Luckily, the space was free and we happily grabbed it. Our complimentary buttered bread arrived, two thick slices each. Way too much considering I was eyeing the desserts big time.

(Penne alla Carbonara – $15?)

I had a craving for a carbonara that night, so I quickly ordered carbonara. Our chef tonight isn’t the usual old lady but a younger dark-haired one (never caught her name). She grumbled a lot, slagged off the (new) waiter, complained about the health inspectors, men, soccer team and certain ‘long time’ customers. But she made carbonara in the most amazingly effortless way. I was watching the way she made the carbonara. She just simply cracked an egg into the pasta (with the heat on purgatory setting), fumbled around looking for a spoon to stir 5-6 seconds later. You know what? It scrambled a bit. But so what? It was yummy. There goes the whole idea of being careful when making carbonara! Did I mention the dish took her about 30 seconds to make in total? Oh yeah, there is no cream in a Pellegrini’s carbonara. Don’t be silly.

(Penne with Bolognese sauce and meatball- $15?)

A minute later, Rowena’s penne with Bolognese sauce and meatball arrived and I immediately felt envy. The meatball was huge. I don’t remember having a taste of it but she thought it was great. What was the best thing for her was the drama that went on the kitchen. The lady making food was absolutely hilarious. I told Rowena before taking her there that there’s usually a fight going on between the kitchen and the dining room, very Italian style and that there would be a lot of yelling. She didn’t believe me, of course. Until she experienced it for herself.

(Cannelloni with veal and spinach – $15?)

Josh wanted a gnocchi of sorts but was sadly told ‘Gnocchi Friday only’.  Sisto wandered in and commented that he would be waiting quite a while for gnocchi, so he decided on a cannelloni with veal and spinach instead.

Me: Was it good?
Josh: Yes.
Me: How good?
Josh: Very good!
Me: Was it better than Dweezil’s
Josh: I think so.

(Lasagna – $15?)

Chris joined us later and opted for a lasagna. Now Josh may make the Best Lasagna in the World, but Pellegrini’s is the master. The Anglo-Aussie boy only has love to win the day!

(Watermelon granita – $3.00, Fruit Cup – $4.00)

I also ordered a fruit cup, which is Pellegrini’s famous watermelon granita with fruits in it. Their coffee is usually also very amazing but it was dinner and I didn’t need the caffeine. Row opted for a plain granita.

(Creme caramel – $5?)

Dessert time, our very entertaining chef told us to just go and look at the desserts at the counter and have a pick. Not being in the mood for adventure, I went for the old favourite creme caramel. Pellegrini’s Creme Caramel is the best I have ever had. It’s strong, it’s gutsy, it’s creamy. It’s just what I love in creme caramel. This time, it was served with cream (I think you had a choice but I don’t remember ever being asked). It was good as usual.

Josh and Chris both went for the passionfruit pie. It was rather good too.

Rowena had the cheesecake. To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember what kind of cheesecake it was or what it tasted like. I was seriously struggling with my creme caramel.

All in all, it was a great fun night out. Definitely an initiation to an out-of-towner with a very, very Melbourne* experience.

Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar, 66 Bourke St., Melbourne 3000 VIC

* I just watched the Australia episode (it’s all about Melbourne so I’m not too sure why they call the episode Australia) of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, the way he pronounced Melbourne just annoyed me. For the record, it’s Melbun.