Marc and I did the touristy thing while we're in Melbourne and decided to take a stroll along Lygon Street. Most online articles reported the Italian strip along there to be a bit of a tourist trap with inauthentic pizza/pasta combos churned out for unsuspecting interstate/international visitors. I could picture my true Melbournian friends rolling their eyes at how naive we were but I ignored that mental image and focused on enjoying my day. Marc and I like walking as a means to take in new cities so for us, it was a chance to venture away from our hotel.
I had been to Lygon Street once before with Kat for our weekend away in Melbourne, many years ago. I even spotted Stuzzichino, a cafe we visited at the time. I'm sure lots of things have changed since 2010 but I felt a bit of nostalgia all the same.
We were aiming to get to a pizza place that reviewed well but after 30min walking, I checked Google Maps to find it was still 40min away. That reshuffled our plans completely. I may like walking but when hunger strikes, I gotta eat. There were plenty of restaurants around us but Carmine's caught our eye because we could see what some of the other patrons were eating and it looked pretty good.
The restaurant has outdoor tables and a larger inside space but we took this opportunity to do a bit of street watching. It was an uncharacteristically sunny and warm day in Melbourne so our table was in the sun but one of the restaurant staff extended the patio covering to put us in the shade.
The food menu comprised of what I think of as standard Italian; pizza, pasta and some protein-based mains. We chose some bruschetta to start and a pizza and pasta dish to share.
Traditional bruschetta - tomato, garlic and pesto on homemade crunchy bread
Our food arrived reasonably quickly, which was a relief because I was very much feeling the hunger pangs at this point. I chose the classic version of bruschetta with tomato and basil. It was light and fresh.
Pappardelle ragu - fat pasta served with a slowly cooked rich lamb shank
When our mains arrived I knew that (as usual) we had ordered too much food. This is somewhat a recurring theme for us. The serving of pappardelle was massive. I find pasta servings at some Italian restaurants can be sparse, leading you to require appetizers and desserts to fill up. This dish had no such problem. The slow cooked lamb shank dominated the plate and underneath was a generous heap of pasta soaked with ragu. I had reserved expectations but this pasta was genuinely delicious. The pappardelle was cooked just right and the ragu was full of flavour.
Carmine's pizza - chorizo sausage, bocconcini cheese, fresh tomato and spinach, drilled with chili oil
Marc's chosen pizza contained sliced chorizo and cheese, lots and lots of cheese. The base was to my liking; thin with puffy, crunchy edges. The chorizo pieces added nice pops of spiciness. This is more of a share pizza than a solo pizza but Marc rolled up his sleeves and finished the whole thing.
We thought Carmine's Bistro had some tasty and filling food. Service was fast and we were able to enjoy watching the street goers, as well as some lovely Italian beer. There may be better on offer in Melbourne but as a Brisbane resident, I was satisfied.