With the sun shining brightly and a definitive whiff of spring in the air (bringing it’s close friend hayfever along for the ride), Max and I headed out for lunch. Our destination – Lygon Street, Melbourne’s Little Italy.
Living in St Kilda, we tend to stick to the ‘south-side’ of the city on weekends, but the warmer weather encouraged us to venture further afield. If only as far as Carlton.
If it’s pizza and pasta you seek, Lygon Street is the answer. But it can be hard work trying to distinguish between the many restaurants, all of which, at a glance, appear to be offering the same thing.
We’d been to Mercadante once before as part of a large birthday party. We’d been nothing but impressed by the quality (not to mention the sheer quantity) of the food. And, by virtue of our large group size, we were able to sample a great many dishes, from olives and dips at antipasti, to creamy tortellini, fresh tomato and basil penne, an array of generously topped pizzas and delicious seafood.
But, back to the dilemma at hand. We’d passed the first hurdle and settled upon a restaurant, but now we were faced with an even greater challenge. See, on our first visit we’d never been asked to consult a menu. We’d simply paid our $20 per head fee (very affordable) and sat back as the sumptuous feast unfolded. Today, however, we had to make an impossible choice between more than 30 different pizzas, a dozen pasta choices, half a dozen veal dishes and a plethora of tempting seafood options.
For Max, it was always going to be pizza. He managed, after considerable contemplation, to narrow it down to just two pizzas. The Vita Supreme, and the Amore. I, on the other hand, was fairly certain that pasta was the way to go, so I settled upon the Tortellini Primavera. Luckily, Max was saved from any further anguish by the welcome news that half-half pizzas were available.
Two coronas later, we were happy as can be, eagerly awaiting the arrival of our indulgent Italian lunch. We were not disappointed.
My pasta was very tasty, if a little safe. The tortellini was delicious, and the sauce had us returning for more. The sweet onions on the Vita Supreme pizza brought the unusual combination of black olives, prawns and salami together, whilst the pesto-stuffed green olives, salty prosciutto and meaty mushrooms on the Amore saw it win the race for best dish of the day.
Before we’d even finished our meal we were vowing to return. And when we saw the pleasingly small amount on our bill, we changed it to ‘return very soon’.
All images courtesy of the Mercadante website