I’ve been suffering severe Italy withdrawal since my return to Melbourne. Luckily for my birthday my mother in law gave me a voucher to Centovene restaurant in Kew (thanks Carmel!). It was one of those really Wintery evenings when I went there with MTV, the sort when you really just want to hibernate at home, but the welcome was warm and Italian at Centonove.
It’s all “Ciao” and “Buonasera” when you walk in the door and the waiters were throwing in as many Italian phrases as they could during the meal. The problem is they probably thought we were both crazy as, having just got back from Italy, we started responding to them in our (very basic) Italian out of habit. I can just imagine them in the kitchen saying “Why do that couple who can’t really speak Italian keep on trying to?”.
The restaurant is fairly small and we were seated in the upstairs dining room which was very cosy with tables close together and wines lining the wall. The menu is a hymn sheet of Italian classics. A bowl of olives to start, along with decent bread, takes us right back to Italy. The fritto misto ($23) of calamari, prawns and zucchini is piping hot but suffers from a thick batter which errs on the side of being stodgy. The dish that is singing out to be ordered on a night like this is the tagiatelle with a ragu of veal cheek ($34). The pasta is al dente and the ragu stonkingly rich – perfect Winter comfort food. Of course MTV can’t go past the grain fed beef fillet ($40) which is cooked to a state of blush pink.
The cheese plate ($36) is generously sized with a mix of Italian and local cheese. The Mauri gorgonzola is a rich and creamy standout. The swoony accents and classic food at this Melbourne institution are like a mini holiday but the high prices are a quick reminder that Centonove is in Kew not Turin.
Details: Centonove, 109 Cotham Rd, Kew 3101 (Ph 03 9817 6468)
Damage: Pricey. Our meal came to over $200 in person.