Errol Street, North Melbourne
This new North Melbourne place has become a serious regular haunt for me and my workmates. A friendly North Italian joint, they take their regional cooking very seriously here.
The menu is not encyclopaedic, but it is augmented by a slew of specials every night. I have two favourite dishes which I struggle to escape from ordering time and time again. The first is spaghetti with blue swimmer crab meat, olive oil, garlic, parsley, golden breadcrumbs and freshly grated bottarga. It never looks much on the plate, but the flavours are so rich I always struggle to finish it. The waiter tells me that the breadcrumbs (salty, garlicky goodness) are a south Italian way of adding flavour to a dish when money is tight and cheese is expensive.
The second dish I love is a fairly simple pappardelle dish with slow-cooked lamb ragu and pecorino. Perfect for a chilly winter's night, it goes well with a nice big glass of chianti.
The wine list is pretty good - plenty of Italians by the glass as well as the bottle.
The owner told me the other night when we went in seeking a quiet table for two, that he couldn't accommodate us as they were having one of their new regional feasts. Every month they will have a bookings-only evening celebrating the food of a particular region of Italy with a special menu. Sounds like a good way to fill a restaurant on a Wednesday night, but I guarantee those heading down to Sosta will add this great place to their list of favourites.