For a smallish city of 4 million people, I think that the Melbourne restaurant scene is disproportionately vibrant – it seems every month I add yet another dozen new restaurant openings to my must-eat-and-blog list.
Yet Melbourne has an even longer list of under-appreciated stalwarts, the restaurants and cafes who do their stuff without celebrities, fanfare and month-long waitlists, but who have, over the years, provided my hungry (and critical) tummy with consistently good food coupled with great service at an affordable price.
For me, Donnini’s is one such classic. The relaxed and stylish Italian restaurant is a beacon of culinary light in among the menu turistico disappointments of Lygon Street. I don’t often visit a restaurant and order the same thing every time, but ever since I moved to Melbourne six years ago I have never veered from the trio of Doninni’s fresh house-made pasta. Tris di pasta Donnini is basically a canoe of carbs – a long plate containing fat pellets of gnocchi in napolitana sauce sprinkled with basil, soft pouches of spinach and ricotta ravioli with a dash of cream and a handful of tagliatelle tossed in a simple Bolognese sauce. Even RM’s pumpkin and almond ravioli with sage and butter sauce (incidentally, his favourite dish at Donnini’s that he orders without fail as well) couldn’t tempt me away from my selection of soothing carb-goodness.
Donnini’s also sell their fresh pasta and sauces in their store further down the street at 398 Lygon Street so you can (almost) replicate the experience at home.