Osteria Ilaria

Mel­bourne’s favourite pasta bar, Tipo 00, gets a new sib­ling

Time Out (Melbourne) - - INSIDE -

Why Lit­tle Bourke Street’s new Ital­ian is a must-try

LIT­TLE BOURKE STREET sure ain’t what it used to be. Once the home of camp­ing out­lets and tourists flee­ing the Hard­ware Lane touts, it’s turned into a mini-ri­val to Flin­ders Lane (home of Chin Chin, Cu­mu­lus Inc and Su­per­nor­mal) thanks to the ar­rival of Kirk’s Wine Bar, French Saloon and Tipo 00. Wan­der past Tipo 00 at the un­fash­ion­able hour of 5.30pm on a Fri­day and you’ll over­hear those who’ve missed out on a ta­ble for­lornly work­ing out Plan B. Don’t de­spair, good peo­ple: your backup plan is now just a shopfront away. It’s round two for Luke Skid­more and Andreas Pa­padakis, the duo who reaf­firmed Mel­bourne’s love for all things Ital­ian and carby when they opened Tipo 00 three years ago. The space for­merly known as Scandi bar Du Nord has been re­vi­talised with the same ar­chi­tec­tural eye. A patina of age has been added to a layer cake of Ital­ianisms, from the dis­tressed faux­tiled floor to the bashed-about charms of white­washed brick­work. A long bar, home of Ne­groni-push­ing bar­tenders, uni­fies the room be­fore segue­ing into an open kitchen where Pa­padakis is dust­ing off those chef tricks of his that lay dor­mant in the Tipo era. What we have here is not so hum­ble as an osteria. Sure, it has an un­der­ly­ing rus­tic Ital­ian brief, ex­em­pli­fied by the char­grilled whole oc­to­pus brutishly splayed over a sauce made of the fiery Cal­abrian spread­able salami, ’nduja. On the other end of the spec­trum, lamb tartare ar­rives gussied up for the red car­pet with a cus­tardy froth of smoked egg­plant, pur­ple Congo potato crisps and winks of rose­mary oil. It’s true in the tast­ing, but it’s a shame the illusion falls apart in a mix-it-all-in out­break of the colour puce. They might also want to nix the nas­tur­tium leaves, the mod­ern an­swer to the pars­ley gar­nish, which need­lessly grace an earthy tan­gle of sautéed pine mush­rooms and a wedge of sweet/savoury pecorino cheese­cake. It’s ironic that the dish that’s be­come Ilaria’s de facto sig­na­ture is pasta. It’s the only one on the list: thick tubes known as pac­cheri, Italy’s an­swer to the Can­tonese chee cheong fun, strewn with nubs of Crys­tal Bay prawn meat, grounded in tomato and sor­rel purees and anointed with the heady cologne of prawn oil. An In­sta­clas­sic. There’s plenty to like about Ilaria, from the car­away fo­cac­cia and cul­tured but­ter to the smart-ca­sual ser­vice from Skid­more and co – not to for­get the min­dread­ing abil­ity of som­me­lier-about-town, Raul Moreno Yague. His list is stuffed with enough low-in­ter­ven­tion cu­rios to mount a com­pelling case for Ilaria as a wine bar with food rather than vice versa. So is it? Hard to say. But what­ever its place in Mel­bourne’s eat­ing and drink­ing scene, we sure are happy to wel­come it to the fam­ily. Larissa

Dubecki 367 Lit­tle Bourke St, Mel­bourne 3000. 03 9642 2287. www.os­te­ri­ailaria.com. Mon-fri 11.30am-10.30pm; Sat 4-10.30pm.

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