124 Peel St
Melbourne, VIC 3051
As much as I hate paying for food that I can make myself, sometimes I want home-styled cooking and to be lazy. But whilst my end of town is good for dumplings and stir-fries, I’m not as fortunate when I’m craving pasta or curry. Those who live near Maria’s Trattoria however, are.
Opened literally 30 years ago, Maria’s Trattoria is very much the quintessential family-run eatery. Its aged facade is very easy to overlook, but what caught my eye was the collage of faded Cheap Eats Awards pasted on the window. I doubt the restaurant itself has changed since the day it opened, and over the years it has become antiquated and tacky, but in a homely, well-loved way.
What really makes Maria’s Trattoria feel homely though are the staff, who are the cutest buttons you’ll ever find. See, there’s one right there, happily waving a piece of bread she’s buttering. Maria herself was also in da house, wearing a flowery apron and cooking up a storm.
Chris ignored my warnings of the portion sizes, and ordered a Tortellini alla Romana ($16.9, main), ‘just to see how big it was’. The plate it was served on was definitely closer to a platter in size, and it was piled high with plump pockets of pasta, stuffed with nuggets of veal. It was generously topped with mushrooms and bacon, and finished with a delectably tangy sauce of tomato and cream.
Meanwhile, my Spaghetti Pescatore ($16.9, entree) was more generous in size than the mains you’ll find at most restaurants. The classic Napoli sauce was mild but hearty in flavour, and though the spaghetti was just a touch past al dente, it was nowhere near problematic.
What impressed me the most however was the seafood. It was generously doled up, consisting of everything from scallops to calamari to clams. The freshness could not be faulted either, though it is unsurprising, given that they source all their produce from Queen Victoria Market across the road. Finished with a healthy Italian-sized glug of olive oil, this is a plate of pasta that’s just as good in front of the TV as it is with a glass of wine.
Though we definitely, definitely didn’t need it, we were still given a basket of slightly-stale-but-perfectly-sufficient bread. And simply because it was there, I ended up eating two slices, soaked in the yummy tortellini sauce.
If we’re talking about it purely from a taste perspective, there is nothing groundbreaking about Maria’s Trattoria. What (I believe) keeps everyone coming back is the genuine sense of warmth and hospitality you get the moment you step in the door. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the food is tasty, the portions huge, and the prices reasonable.
Rating: 14/20 – mama maria!
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.