Our last night in Melbourne and we wanted to make it really special. Enter Osteria Ilaria, voted number three on Eater’s Hottest New Restaurants in Melbourne 2017. Coincidentally, it also turned out to be the sister restaurant to Tipo 00 (you can read all about it here) and situated right next to it, on Little Bourke Street. Having learnt from our previous experience of dining at Tipo 00, we decided to be prudent and book this one in advance to avoid disappointment.
Inside, the restaurant was a lot bigger than I expected, with a central corridor cutting across the mostly linear space. The decor is semi-industrial with polished concrete, rough and distressed white brick walls. It is pepped up with vibrant leather upholstery and attractive patterned floor tiles.
The food, like its older sibling, is Italian-inspired. They also have an extensive wine selection which matches well with all the delicious food on offer.
The menu is sharing plates so we got sharing straightaway. First up was the Grilled Calamari, Saffron and Baccala. It was a carnival of piscine flavours and textures, with added salty and aniseedy notes.
The Paccheri Pasta, Crystal Bay Prawns, Sorrel is one of their signature dishes and I can see why. Smooth, fat tubes of pasta lay beautifully curled up on a puddle of warming, fragrant sauce, with a scattering of snappy sorrel leaves.
I also ordered the Gnocchi, Peas, Pistachio, Goats Curd – little pasta dumplings floating in a mouthwatering and vividly verdant sauce. It was comfort food with a touch of sophistication.
We hadn’t completely forgotten the meat. A well-cooked hunk of Dry Aged Porterhouse was greedily shared between the two of us. It was anointed with smoked marrow butter (game-changing) and served alongside a big pile of Farm Fresh Salad to keep the meat sweats under control.
Osteria Ilaria, understandably, has a lot to live up to. Quietly ambitious and confident, it successfully emerges from the shadows of its illustrious sibling and put its own stamp on the culinary map of Melbourne.
Location : 367, Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000
More information can be found here.