18th January 2016
198 Little Collins St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
Never assume. Assuming makes an ass out of u and me. But despite quoting this to Chris with smug regularity, I had assumed that Rosa’s Kitchen would be open because the website allowed me to make a dinner booking. Fast forward 4 hours, and we were standing in front of dark windows, tummies rumbling.
I had tormented myself all day with the thought of a healthy bowl of pasta, and now nothing else would do. I flailed about for 10 or so minutes, trying to find an Italian restaurant in the immediate area that I hadn’t blogged before that doesn’t also charge an arm and a leg. Eventually, we settled on Stellini Bar, a quiet little blink-and-you’ll-miss-it restaurant a few blocks away.
Being that no-man’s-land between Christmas and New Years, we were the only ones in the restaurant, but the place was cosy enough for it to not matter. Our waitress popped a candle on our table, and voila, a dinner date for two!
The day was warm, and an Antipasto Board ($19.5) seemed like a fantastic idea. This small platter was piled high with goodies, ready to be mixed and matched with the heels of deliciously crusty bread.
There were three types of cured meats, all of them soft and pliant, but the one that stood out was the meaty, thickly-cut, and slightly spicy salami. The creamy, mild balls of bocconcini paired well with the oily richness of the olives, whilst the roasted vegetables oozed with herbs and olive oil. And although an odd addition, the tuna salad with its occasional pop of tangy capers was a crowd pleaser.
I ordered the Potato Gnocchi with Braised Duck Ragu ($22.5) with a very similar, and very extraordinary dish I had from Tipo 00 in mind. The soft, fluffy texture of these gnocchi were an absolute treat, soaking up the Bolognese-like ragu deliciously. There was also an admirable amount of duck thrown into the mix, and it made for a tasty and satisfying meal.
Of course, this wasn’t as good as artisan pasta from a restaurant with a chef’s hat, but comparing the two would just be mean. This is a perfectly good pasta that does what the label says, and then some. I’d be more than happy to have it again.
Despite being largely pleasant but forgettable, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the dinner I had at Stellini. Sometimes simple and tasty is all you need.
Rating: 13/20 – simple stellini.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.