Sunday, April 01, 2007
It is called Woodstock Café - Nicholson St North Carlton. It is a trattoria that was transplanted from Trastevere in Rome. Nothing fancy, fully family run (by 3 generations of the family who own it) and the food is simple, typical Italian, as only the Italians know how to cook. The highlight is the pizza - unlike virtually all pizza places in Melbourne, all their pizza's fit the EU (Italian) official definition. They are made with proper fresh ingredients, including fior di latte and baked in a wood fire oven. These pizzas are significantly better than anywhere else I have tasted in Melbourne. They are the genuine Italian thing. The menu only has pizzas. The other meals are written on the blackboard and change daily, depending on what was bought and what they feel like cooking.They have been doing this before this became trendy in Melbourne - it is simply how they do it in Italy. The food is cooked by the older generationof the family. I happened to be invited into the kitchen to help me choose what I want to eat - it was spotless, and all the ingredients were fresh. When I was there with my friends on Friday night, we decided to sample a few things - Gnocchi Gorgonzola, Risotto Carciofi (artichoke) and we were convinced to try the Capretto al forno (baby goat baked in the oven). The food was served with no fancy pancy stuff, on round white plates, and was absolutely fantastic. The gnocchi was soft, melt in your mouth and the saucewas not heavy with a light flavour of the gogonzola. The risotto was perfectly cooked and you could actually taste the individual ingredients, including the fresh artichoke pieces. The goat was one of the most delicioust hings we had tasted. All three of us. It was extremely tender, melting like butter. We did not need a knife to cut it. We left the pizza selection (we had 2) to Tony (he is the son of the owners who gave up a career in accounting to follow his passion - real pizza). They were simply the best in Melbourne and would certainly match the best ones that I have eaten in Italy. It is relatively cheap - the food was less than $100 for the 3 of us for the food and we had a fantastic bottle of wine from Sardinia (a grenache) which was recommended by Tony. The atmosphere was true Trastevere style trattoria - emphasis on the food. The service was excellent but it can occassionally be erratic - 3 years ago,we were served our mains at different times. However, the food was so good, that it was irrelevant. I very strongly recommend it. Casual, no fuss Italian at its best. We stayed there till late and just to top it all off, the family excised (sic) us, all sat down at another table, and had a very typical, loud Italian family dinner when all the patrons (other than us) had left.