Friday, 25 May 2012

Il Solito Posto

There are so many restaurants in the CBD and I'm constantly astonished when I realise how many I've never been to. There are a few restaurants in particular, some that I walk past nearly every day, that have been on my 'go to' list for some time. With windows filled wine bottles and books, Il Solito Posto has always looked so cosy and warm, and it has been on that list for about a year now. So I finally went there!

My dining companion, the ever enthusiastic Anna, booked us a table in the restaurant/trattoria (there separate caffeteria section too). As we descended into the restaurant area, it felt as if we were hiding beneath Melbourne, escaping the outside world to a place where you can enjoy the delights of wine and food with reckless abandon.

As is expected, we started our evening with a glass of wine. I couldn't go passed a glass of heart-warming Nebbiolo, having only recently learnt about this varietal in Heathcote. The red wine, the dimly lit restaurant, the bottles and bottles of wine behind me. I was beginning to think I had found an inner city haven.

But despite feeling content, deciding what eat proved to be quite the challenge. Did I want the salmon on the specials board or a pasta or... This went on for a little while. After getting some helpful advice from our waiter, I ordered the Linguini al nero di seppia (squid ink linguini, calamari, black russian tomatoes, chilli and white wine).

There was plenty of calamari and even some octopus I think. The tomatoes were soft, juicy and full of flavour. And the pasta was truly delicious. I can't remember ever having eaten squid ink linguini before, but I certainly won't forget this occasion. The flavours were fresh and for a pasta dish, it didn't feel too heavy - although there was a lot of it.

Anna ordered the Tortellini di zucca con ricotta (pumpkin and ricotta tortellini, burnt butt, almonds and sage) and was lovely enough to give me a taste. Oooh it was another delicious dish. I am a big fan of natural almonds, so they definitely struck a chord with me.

Our meals were amazing but our appetites weren't quite sated yet, so we ordered the Budino al cioccolato (soft centred chocolate pudding, salted caramel, caramelised banana and caramel ice cream) to share of course.

The chocolate pudding was gooey in the middle and the salted caramel was divine. Salted caramel seems to be the new 'in' dessert ingredient - and I'm not complaining.  We did have one gripe about this dessert though, the ice cream was actually banana flavoured (not caramel), so we left it relatively untouched. I can't say the same for the rest of the dessert though - we demolished it.

Il Solito Posto has a fantastic ambience. There is just enough old world charm and Italian influences to help you forget where you really are - in a basement below Collins St. The food was delicious and our service was great (the waiter thought they were "serving us too quickly", so they gave us complimentary glasses of dessert wine). I know Melbourne has an enormous number of Italian restaurants and I could probably try dine at them all and never achieve it in my life time. But I have no doubt that I will be back at Il Solito Posto... and not just because I walk passed it every day.

- Dani

Cuisine: Italian
Price: $$$
Location: 113 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000

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