I always wished I had an Italian Nonna to feed me up with pasta and pinch my cheeks. I think I’m well and truly past the age of adoption now so I console myself instead with regular visits to Rosa Mitchell’s restaurants. Mitchell’s food is simple, hearty and always delicious.
She’s now expanded from Rosa’s Kitchen to Rosa’s Canteen right near the Supreme Court building in the CBD. It’s much more convenient for me at “my end’ of the city so I’ve been here a few times now for catch ups with friends. Lunch times at Rosa’s Kitchen are bustling with lots of legal eagles and office workers marking a new staff arrival or departure. The fit out is more modern bistro than tuckshop style canteen, it features an open kitchen with lots of polished timber and huge glass windows looking out onto the court.
This is a proper Italian restaurant so of course there is crusty, salty bread to start served with a small bowl of olive oil for dipping. More substantial starters include the calamari ($15) which is tossed in semolina and fresh herbs and very lightly fried so it maintains its springiness.
Mitchell is a pasta master so everything from the penne to the gnocchi here is a winner. I particularly love the spaghetti doused in a simple tomato sauce and served studded with fat, meaty mussels ($26). Just a few simple ingredients make up each dish like the orechiette with broccoli and anchovies ($25).
The side dishes could almost make up a meal in themselves. If the roasted cauliflower ($10), served with warm olives, fried breadcrumbs and capers is on the menu, it’s a must order. Who needs a Nonna when you have Rosa?
Details: Rosa’s Canteen, Level 1, corner Little Bourke Street and Thomson Street, Melbourne (Ph 03 9602 5491)