A25 Pizzeria

Italian food has become synonymous to summer days for me, since going to Italy itself is not happening anytime soon, I’ve settled for trying out some new Italian restaurants for the time being.

A25 has three locations in Melbourne already, and recently added some vegan options to their menu, which I was more than happy to try. The airy and funky space looked promising, and I was ready to dig in to some good ol’ pizza!

Aperol Spritz – $14.00

Aperol Spritz is my go-to drink in the warmer weather. It’s light, sparkling and fruity, what more can you ask for?

Truffle Porcini & Parmesan Fries – $8.50

The truffles fries came with the pungent smell of truffle, which means you’re either going to love them or hate them. I am personally a huge fan of truffle, and thought these were delectable.

Vegan Vegie Explosion – $20.00

Featuring a range of grilled vegies, the pizza surely looked promising. I thought the vegan mozzarella was actually pretty decent, I mean sure, it doesn’t exactly give off the same creamy taste, but it did the job. The vegies were quite sweet after being roasted, especially in the case of the roasted pumpkin and capsicum, and this was offset nicely by the brininess from the olives scattered across the pizza.

A25 – $25.00

With the titular A25 pizza touted as a favourite, I had to give it a go. The combination of prosciutto and fresh mozzarella is always a classic, and the homemade pesto and roasted pine nuts added some earthiness to the pizza.

With deals such as $15 pizza and pasta for weekday lunches, A25 has become a hotspot for those that work in offices closeby. Indeed, the outside terrace was filled with patreons grabbing a quick bite to eat during rush hour.

The expansion of the menu will certainly be appreciated by those that frequent the restaurant, as it means that they are able to bring friends who may have dietary requirements to dine with them, while still being able to get some traditional offerings themselves, a feat that has become harder to accomplish.

So next time you’re in need of a mixture of vagan and non-vegan options, why not give A25 a try in one of its three locations?

How to get here:
I visited the South Yarra location of A25, which is on Chapel Street. Catch tram #78 and get off at Malcolm Street/Chapel Street, and the restaurant is right next to the tram stop. Alternatively, catch the train on the Sandringham line and get off at South Yarra, and A25 is around 10 minutes walk away.

I dined as a guest of A25.

A25 Pizzeria - South Yarra Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Tipo 00

There are plenty of good Italians restaurants in Melbourne, yet if you asked ten different people where you could find the best pasta, Tipo will probably be mentioned more than a couple of times. The restaurant has been on my radar for years, from memory, they used to not take reservations, and the intimate dining space meant that a table was hard to come by. However, that is no longer the case, as bookings of all group sizes can be made now. This made things significantly easier for us, as a group of us had visited Tipo for a birthday celebration.

Bread with Whipped Ricotta

Free bread can never be the wrong way to start a meal, especially when they’re freshly baked from the kitchen, and served with some cool whipped ricotta, like the one served at Tipo.

Polenta Fritta – $9.00

The polenta chips were creamy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and the generous sprinkling of rosemary parmesan was delectable.

Octopus

Next, we ordered the octopus form the daily specials. The tentacles had a gorgeous char on them, and the smoky flavour really came through. The sweetness of the corn contrasted well with the smokiness of the octopus.

Burrata – $16.00

Cheese is always a winner in my book, and this was no exception. The creamy and cool burrata had a light drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and the caper berries added some tang to the plate, while the capsicum offered its sweetness, rounding off the dish.

Calamari – $19.00

The vibrant colours of the purple potatoes and the broad beans made this a visually enticing dish. Again, the smokiness of the calamari was more than welcome. This was a more subdued dish in comparison to the Octopus, as the flavours were all in a similar profile.

Casarecce – $25.00

Tipo’s menu comprises mainly of pasta, and we each ordered a different dish because variety is the spice of life. These little twists of casarecce had simple additions of radicchio, pork sausage and white wine. The bitterness from the radicchio can be a bit divisive, as one of us thoroughly dislike the bitter taste. I however, thought that it contrasted nicely with the juicy pork sausage. Although this was not mind-blowingly good, it was still a good plate of pasta.

Tagliolini Al Nero – $28.00

The squid ink tagliolini has become synonymous with Tipo at this point, and I had to of course try it on my first visit. The tangles of tagliolini was cooked perfectly, of course, the only way that Tipo knows how. The addition of fresh squid and bottarga meant that the sweetness of the crustacean really had a chance to shine.

Gnocchi Di Patate – $32.00

Another unanimous favourite was the gnocchi in a duck and mushroom ragu. The pillows of gnocchi were the best I’ve ever had, they were the perfect balance between being soft yet retaining a bite, and not overly starchy like gnocchis can often get at restaurants. The rich ragu was also a delight, the generous pieces of duck meat meant that this was an extremely satisfying bowl of pasta.

Pappardelle – $34.00

The pappardelle was essentially Tipo’s take on a traditional bolognese, substituting wild boar for beef. The thick pieces of pappardelle were again, perfect, and acted as the perfect vehicle for the bolognese. Although refined, this was still at its heart, comfort food that puts you in a happy place.

Although the $5 per head cake surcharge was a bit hefty in my opinion, the food at Tipo actually reached the high expectation I had going in, which is saying a lot. The service was on the briskier end, but it was still courteous enough. The price tag at Tipo means that I won’t be returning for a quick lunch anytime soon, but I’m certainly more than happy to re-visit the restaurant when the occasion calls for it.

How to get here:
Tipo 00 is located on Little Bourke Street, a short five minutes walk from Melbourne Central.

Tipo 00 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Moon Dog Brewery Bar

The end of Summer means that there is an exponential decrease of number of outdoor activities that is available. Other than the real outdoorsy ones – hiking and camping –Β  I will also miss is outdoor cinemas, rooftop bars and cosy breweries.

Breweries are something that I’ve only started going to last year. They’re fun, relaxing, and creates a vacuum of endless conversations. The most recent brewery that I had visited is Moon Dog, which specialises in a number quirky flavoured beers. We went on quite a warm day, and the intimate almost lounge room-esque area was filled out by people.Processed with VSCO with hb2 preset

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Son of a Spritz – $15.00

Sunny days calls for refreshing cocktails, and Moon Dog’s version of the classic Aperol Spritz was perfect for the occasion. A little more tart than the traditional version, it was hard to stop at one with this drink.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetFood wise, on top of the free popcorn available from the bar (just ask, they have an addictive seasoning!), there’s a pizza truck outside of the lounge area.

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There ain’t no mushroom in this town for… – $16.00

We started off with the cheesy and earthy mushroom pizza on the menu. Mushrooms are some of my favourite ingredients, and the trio of field, shimeji and porcini mushrooms really hit the spot. Being on a garlic base further accentuated the umani coming through, and the dough was thin and crispy enough, but still held onto the toppings quite well.

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Pimp My Marg – $14.00

A good margherita pizza is deceptively simple, but full of flavour, and this was a prime example of that. The vibrant combination of tomato, basil, ricotta and mozzarella really came together. The dough was slightly thicker, which was perfect considering the toppings were considerably more weighty compared to its mushroom counterpart.

The laid back atmosphere at Moon Dog stood out to me from the get go, and the quirky drinks available on tap ensured that everyone can find one that suits them. Whether you’re looking for a destination for pre-dinner drink or spending a relaxing few hours playing Jenga while gauging on popcorns, Moon Dog is the place to be.

How to get there:
Moon Dog is located on Duke Street in Abbotsford. Catch tram #109 from Parliament station towards Box Hill, and get off at McKay St/Victoria St, and the brewery is a short 3 minutes walk away.

Moon Dog Brewery Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

400 Gradi East

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The Eastland renovation seemed to have happened a lifetime ago, but really, it’s only been a couple of years. One of the welcome edition to the Town Square was 400 Gradi East, known for having the best margherita pizza in town.

This is an extremely backlogged post, in fact, I visited 400 Gradi East during a special event over a year ago, on National Cheese Pizza Day.

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Melzane alla Parmigiana – $17.00

The eggplant parmigiana came in a dish that was smaller than I expected, but after tasting it, all my doubt vanished. Think eggplant baked with napoli sauce, ricotta and mozzarella, are you salivating yet? The punchy napoli sauce was miles better than the bottled ones I’m used to, and the quality of the cheeses guaranteed that the sauce was intensely rich in flavour. The size of this was actually perfect, as this was a very indulgent dish.

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99 Cheese Piza

Onto the special guest of the night that appears once in a blue moon, the 99 cheese pizza. The name and idea of this pizza may seem gimmicky, but let me tell you, it tasted phenomenal. 95 types of cheese were made into a sauce, with the 4 remaining one – also what are usually present on a four cheese pizza – sprinkled on top. The cheese sauce was sinfully good, literally sending me to cheese heaven. The crust was also perfectly airy and had enough integrity to hold all the cheese on top, certainly not an easy feat.

IMG_5328I know I’m being a bit of a tease here, blogging about a pizza that no longer exist, but that just means we gotta petition for 400 Gradi to bring it back right? I mean, it worked last time.

400 Gradi has been a long time player in the authentic Italian pizza game, and although it’s not my favourite, it certainly is capable of delivering some knock-out pizzas. With its expansion into the suburbs, 400 Gradi continues providing diners with pizzas that might not transport one back to the streets of Italy, but works for a satisfying meal that doesn’t leave you feeling too bad about yourself, and that’s enough for me on most nights.

How to get there:
400 Gradi East is located in the Town Square of Eastland, right opposite Ringwood Station, which is on the Belgrave/Lilydale line.

400 Gradi East Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kaprica

Kaprica has been a hidden gem close to uni for as long as I can remember. It is easily missable if you don’t know what you’re looking out for, but on any sunny day, there’s sure to be a crowd sitting outside, and that’s what gives away its location.1

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Provelone (Small) – $16.00

I’ve been here from time to time throughout my study, but is still yet to test every pizza on the menu. On this occasion, I went for the Provelone, which had the topping of artichoke, provolone, rocket and tomato. This was a very lightly flavoured pizza, and all four ingredients worked in harmony. I especially loved how the rocket cut through the richness of the provolone and the saltiness of the artichoke, and the tomato base lent every bite some acidity.3

The small pizza is very satisfying for one person, and doesn’t break the bank, which is why Kaprica remains popular amongst students nearby.Β I’m pretty sure we visited at around 3pm, hence the empty tables, but trust me, if you’re visiting on a Friday night, be sure to make a booking so that you don’t have to wait out in the cold.

How to get here:
Kaprica is located on Lincoln Square, catch any tram heading out of the city from Melbourne Central/Swanston Street and get off at Lincoln Square South, Kaprica is less than two minutes walk away.

Kaprica Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

+39 Pizzeria

Italian food is one of my favourite cuisines, maybe it’s because of the parallels between Chinese and Italian cuisine. They can both be greasy take aways, or gourmet perfections.

+39 Pizzeria is definitely the latter of those two. Here’s a fact of the day for you, +39 is the international dialling code for Italy, and +39 Pizzeria clearly specialises in simple but flavoursome Italian food.

Crudaiola – $26.50

I don’t know about you, but I definitely trust the opinions of the staff at a pizzeria, hence why we ordered the Crudaiola, a staff favourite! There was essentially only five ingredients on this pizza, hand torn buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto di Parma, marinated roma tomatoes, rocket and parmesan. That’s the beauty of Italian food though, creating an extraordinary dish with a handful of quality ingredients.

Each of the elements brought something to the table; creaminess from the buffalo mozzarella, umami from the prosciutto, acidity from the roma tomatoes, just the right amount of bitterness from the rocket, and savouriness from the parmesan. Seriously though, every bite was heavenly. If only the base was a little crispier, then it would’ve truly been perfection, but hey, it came pretty damn close.

Riviolo Aperto – $28
We chose the pasta special on the day, which was a fresh egg pasta with calamari and prawns ragu bisque sauce, and a light cherry tomato and white wine dressing of sort. The pasta sheets were thin and even, and were cooked very well, the tomato sauce itself had a great depth of flavour, and there were also some fresh chillis for some heat. Overall, this was again, a well executed dish with a clean taste, although the portion was quite small.
Small Sweet Pizza – $12.00

Because of the serving size of the pasta though, we were able to fit in the dessert, so maybe it was a blessing in disguise after all? The dessert pizza had everything I loved, nutella, strawberries, vanilla cream, and some all-so-delicious carb that comes in the form of a doughy pizza base. It really is a classic combination that you can’t go wrong with.

+39 Pizzeria is exactly what I think of when it comes to quality Italian food, perfect executions that allow simple ingredients to shine. The restaurant was buzzing the whole night, and you should definitely making a booking to secure yourself a table!

How to get there:
+39 Pizzeria is located on Little Bourke Street, which is a 10 minute walk from Flinders Street Station, or if you hate walking like me, catch any of the three trams (#19, #57, #59) from the Elizabeth Street exit of Flinders Street Station, and get off at Bourke Street Mall/Elizabeth Street, and the restaurant is two minute walk away!

+39 Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Frank’s Cakes

Frank’s Cakes is quite popular amongst the locals, and several of them had made a recommendation. When I happened to have a couple of hours to kill in the area, I decided to give it a go.

Chai Latte – $3.70

The chai latte came out in a cute beige mug, with a generous amount of cinnamon on top. The chai itself was a bit weak for my liking, to be honest though, that’s pretty much always the case.

Latte – $3.70

The latte fared better on our visit, with a thick and creamy frothing on top, and a pleasantly smooth blend of coffee beneath.

Eggs Royale – $16.00

As expected based on its location, Frank’s Cakes had quite a basic and traditional menu. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I mean, classics done well in itself is a challenge. The eggs royale looked quite promising when it landed on our table, with a golden hollandaise drizzled down the smoked salmon and toasted English muffin.

The eggs were poached perfectly, something that I’ve realised should not be taken for granted over the years. The acidity of the hollandaise counteracted the richness of the salmon really well, however, the portion was on the small side of things, and the English muffin was pretty much soaked in egg yolk and sauce.

Spanish Omelette – $17.00

Another egg dish, because it’s the best way to start a day. Chorizo has pretty much become the symbol of Spain, in my book anyway, and there was plenty of it in this omelette.

The omelette itself had a great creamy texture, while the chorizo and Spanish onion added some bite and crunch to it. The Spanish onion also lent some sweetness to the omelette. The only downside was that the omelette became more watery as we were getting through it.

Frank’s Cakes had a bit of a funny vibe, kind of like a place that used to be homey and welcoming, but has since become more commercialised. I did hear that the cakes and baked goods were great though, but it was too early in the day for me to try some.

How to get there:
Frank’s Cakes is located on Scoresby Road, catch bus #693 towards Oakleigh Station, and get off at stop Scoresby Road/Ferntree Gully Road, the cafe is two minutes walk away.

Frank's Cakes Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato