To be honest I tend to think of the Italian restaurants along Lygon street as a bit of a tourist trap. With the exception of Tiamo’s, at which I have consumed many a delicious bowl of pasta, the strip of Italian restaurants with touts out the front is a part of Carlton that I avoid.
But when MTV and I were invited by La Spaghettata to have dinner I decided to try and put aside any preconceived ideas I had (even though I did have to bypass a tout to get in the door). Set in an old terrace La Spaghettata ticks every stereotype of an Italian restaurant with its brightly checked tablecloths and soccer playing on the television.
|Bruschetta at La Spaghettata|
So far the restaurant lived up to my low expectations but I hoped the food would improve things. The meal did not get off to a great start with the bruschetta ($9.50) which featured the type of tasteless water-bomb tomatoes you see in the supermarkets. In such a simple dish you can’t afford to use poor quality produce.
However things turned around with the arrival of a huge platter of spaghetti marinara ($29) (I would suggest ordering the entree size unless you really do have hollow legs). The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and was chock full of plump, juicy mussels and bouncy, sweet jumbo prawns. The gnocchi bolognese ($22.50) was similarly impressive with a rich, meaty bolognese sauce and soft, pillowy gnocchi. Again the serving size was almost comically large.
Manny our waiter, who was Italian charm personified, sweet talked us into trying the cannoli della nonna a cannoli but filled with chocolate and custard cream. I didn’t think cannoli could be improved on as a dessert but this variation may have just done it with the lovely addition of custard and chocolate. It’s the sort of dessert your Italian grandmother may have made for you if you were lucky enough to have a nonna who loved you that much.
There’s nothing fashionable or cutting edge about La Spaghettata but it has a lovely family feel to it and a sense of abundance and hospitality that is wholly Italian.
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Gourmet Chick was a guest of La Spaghettata.
Details: La Spaghettata, 238 Lygon street, Carlton (Ph 03 9663 6102)
Damage: Reasonable. Although on this occasion I did not pay.