San Paolo Solarino – Sicilian in the City

panda 4 rating

I stumbled across San Paolo Solarino one day whilst out shopping in the lane ways of Melbourne in my lunch break. P and I were looking for a place to have lunch with another friend and I suggested Solarino.

Solarino is a contemporary Italian restaurant / bar that is located in Howey Place – a laneway off Little Collins Street – and nestled between stores such as Oroton, FCUK and the recently opened Phillipa’s. Solarino is brought to us by chefs Grant Phelan (Il Solito Posto, Ca De Vin) and Jade Amenta. It offers authentic and stays true to the Nonna style of cooking in presenting a modern twist on your traditional Sicilian food – and is open seven days a week for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

From the moment you walk inside – Solarino has a real sophisticated and elegant feel to it coupled with a air of casualness and comes complete with wooden tables and a swanky front bar. A highlight is the white washed walls with the name Solarino written in lights. The front counter hosts a silver coffee machine which pumps out delicious tasting coffee as well as cakes and a variety of desserts.

Their breakfast menu consists of the usual suspects such as Eggs any way you like it including Benedict, Florentine, Poached, Scrambled and Omelette. There is also Toast, French toast, Muesli and Crumpets available. Their lunch menu consists of Antipasti followed by Primi, Insalata and finishes with Speciali. There are around 7 different pasta dishes to choose from under the Primi heading – including Spaghetti, Fettuccine and Linguine. Insalata dishes include Calamari fritti and a variety of salads to choose from. Specials include Soft Shell Chilli Crab Salad, Sizzling Prawns, Veal as well as a Claypot Lamb.

I ordered the Penne with Garlic, Mushroom, Chilli, Onion and Fetta. The pasta was fresh and cooked to perfection. The flavour combination of the earthy tones from the mushroom paired with the garlic, and the caramelisation of the onion was simply divine. This was one fantastic mouth watering dish!

P ordered the Gnocchi Napoli Oven Baked and Topped with Grilled Mozzarella which came served out in a mini hot plate pan. P let me try some of her gnocchi and it was literally a melt in your mouth experience – heaven! The flavour combination of the Napoli and mozzarella worked together well. If you are a fan of gnocchi you have to try this dish out!

T ordered the Rigatoni with Aurora Style Pork Bolognese and Ricotta and said that he quite enjoyed the dish and the flavours. The dish looked fresh, vibrant and delicious.

Solarino is a fantastic venue that makes you feel comfortable and welcomed. It serves traditional Italian food with a modern twist – the dishes are a tad pricier that you would normally expect – but once you experience the flavours and freshness the price is simply an afterthought.

Rating : 4 Pandas
Price: $$$
Menu:
Refer to the following for Breakfast: http://www.solarino.com.au/public/menus/solarino_breakfast.pdf
Refer to the following for Lunch: http://www.solarino.com.au/public/menus/solarino_lunch-dinner.pdf
Refer to the following for the wine list: http://www.solarino.com.au/public/menus/solarino_wine.pdf
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambiance: Stylish, Elegant, Classy and Comfortable
Standout Dish: Any of the Pasta dishes!
Service: Friendly and Warm
Online Booking: Yes via website – http://www.solarino.com.au/
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.solarino.com.au/
Howey Place
279 Little Collins St, Melbourne
Tel No: 9663 2636

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 6:30am – 10:30pm

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Baby (Cafe & Pizzeria) – Italian Fun


Baby is a new Italian restaurant from the restaurateur and owner of Chin Chin, Chris Lucas. It is located at the old Pearl location in Church St, Richmond. The restaurant has been renovated and now has an urban chic look to it – casual and comfortable yet classy in its own right. As you are walk in there is a picture that’s a bit tongue-in-cheek literally, and then you are led to a casual sitting area which is surrounds the kitchen to your left and to the right is the more formal dining area and the bar. The restaurant doesn’t take bookings and has a walk-in policy. You can put your name down and they will text / call you when your table is ready – you can either sit at the bar and have some drinks or leave and come back. I love the tables at Baby – wooden tables that had a sunken in space which held the cutlery, serviettes and condiments.

We went on a Friday night around 8pm and were told it would be about a 40 minute wait, so we went over to the bar to have some drinks. The night we went ex-AFL player Luke Darcy and his wife and some friends were there as well, and they too had to wait for a table albeit a shorter wait than other people =p
The bar staff are friendly and always happy to offer opinions. I ordered a mocktail – which had a berry and lychee flavour and it was delicious.

Once we were seated at our table, we were quick to order as we had a chance over drinks to look at the menu. The menu is quite large had covers a variety of foods – pizzas, pastas, antipasto, cured meats, salads and of course dessert! I have been craving Orecchiette pasta for a while so couldn’t look past that on the menu, but I am also a huge fan of Gnocchi and the combination of pumpkin  and sage sounded too good to pass up on so I ordered both. We also ordered the Chitarra Con Friarielli e Salsiccia – Guitar String Pasta, Italian Sausage, Wild Greens, Broccoli and Chilli. To start with we had the Grilled Polenta, Gorgonzola, Mushrooms, Salami. The Polenta was cooked perfectly – not too gritty and not too soft. The toppings were good but not great, and I thought the Mushrooms on top could have done with a little bit more flavouring. The Orecchiette came with Broadbeans, Peas, Dill and Lemon – it was a simple dish with simple flavours but it worked, my only gripe would be that there too many peas. The Gnocchi was my clear favourite. The pasta was fresh, soft and perfectly squishy and tasted great. The pumpkin had the right consistency and the right amount of flavouring, not too sweet and not too salty. The sage added an extra dimension and together with the gnocchi completed the dish.

As full as we were, we couldn’t look pass the dessert menu and ended up deciding to share the Cinnamon donuts. They came out warm and with a serving of chocolate sauce on the side. There was lots of cinnamon sugar on the donuts – which I loved! The donuts were soft and had a nice crunch on the outside. Divine!

Baby had a great atmosphere and vibe, service was fantastic – our water was always topped up and it was easy to find a waiter if we needed anything else. The food is fresh and has the home cooked taste and feel to it, which will definitely make you forget the wait.

Rating : 3.5 Pandas
Price: $$
Menu – A la Carte – Pizza, Pasta, Cheeses, Salads – you can view the Takeaway menu at http://www.babypizza.com.au/menu
Fullness: 100%
Atmosphere / Ambience: Chic and Comfortable. Great for a casual catch up with friends or even date night.
Standout Dish: GNOCCHI ALLA ZUCCA – Hand made Gnocchi, Pumpkin, Sage and for Dessert – SFINCI AL CIOCCOLATO – Hot cinnamon doughnuts,chocolate sauce
Service: Friendly and Attentive
Online Booking: Baby has a walk in policy only. 
Restaurant Details and Location:
http://www.babypizza.com.au/
631-633 Church Street, Richmond
Tel No: 9421 4599

Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday: 7am to 11pm

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