September 22, 2010

Grossi Florentino - The Cellar Bar

80 Bourke Street
Melbourne, VIC 3000
(03) 9662 1811
Food: Italian

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city centre sits the ever so grand Grossi Florentino. This iconic Italian establishment has aged gracefully, withstanding over 50 years of generations in the food industry, and serves up some of Melbourne's finest Italian dishes. Grossi is divided into three dining areas, offering a different mood, experience and style of food in each.

First there is The Cellar Bar, which acts as the restaurant's "shopfront". This is where you will find a short menu of rustic, classic Italian fare, like a dish of freshly cut pasta lathered in a rich, hearty sauce and some light nibbles of salted cod croquettes. Then, situated directly next door is The Grill, where the service is just that little bit more polished, the menu more extensive and the food a touch more sophisticated. Finally, the substance and  "gastronomical heart" of Grossi Florentino is upstairs, at The Restaurant. The food here is incredibly inspiring and an art form of fresh flavours, created from seasonal local and imported ingredients. The service is subtle, yet accomplished and you are guaranteed a memorable dining experience.

After yet another lengthy day of (window)shopping in the city, Damian and I found ourselves at Grossi Florentino for the first time. It was a spur of the moment decision, and we had not made a reservation, so we tried our luck at The Cellar Bar, where they act upon a first come first serve basis with a no bookings policy.

After just a couple minute's wait, a tabled freed up and we were briskly seated. The dim lighting and cosily spaced tables made for a romantic ambience, but was ruffled up by the slight pompous manner of the male waiters. Despite that, they provided efficient service, cleverly manouvering themselves back and forth from the kitchen, behind bar and on the floor. Our dishes arrived promptly, and were a true epitome of traditional Italian food with clean flavours and a twist of refinement.

Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Pear Salad - Superb tastes from the use of the simplest of fresh ingredients. The prosciutto was delicate and salty, perfectly offsetting the crisp sweetness from the pear and the moist, creamy mozzarella.

Minestrone Alla Genovese - A nourishing vegetable soup with house-made pesto and Parmesan that is grated with flair for you at the table.

Calamari In Padella - Sautéed, tender calamari with refreshing rocket leaves and lemon.

Spaghetti Alla Bolognese - Nothing like a dish of mellow, bitey pasta to soak up all the robust flavours from a rich meat ragu, topped off with freshly grated Parmesan.

Tortellini Di Zucca Della Lunigiana - Expertly made tortellini, encasing a soft centre of sweet pumpkin, served with a nutty, buttery sauce and fried sage leaves.

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