Tipo 00December 26, 2014
361 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
Pasta. God help me it’s delicious. Long, short, thick, thin, plain flour, spelt flour, spinach, saffron or squid ink, I love it. One of my favourite things to do when home alone is to throw some spaghetti in a pot, then just before it’s done, gently fry up some chilli flakes and garlic in olive oil, and toss though the spaghetti before enjoying from a big bowl on the couch. It’s heaven.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who couldn’t follow a paleo diet because of my extreme love of pasta. I know there’s at least three other people I can count in that group – Mr N, my brother, and Andreas Papadakis, co-owner of newly opened pasta bar, Tipo 00. After some time spent in high-end restaurants (including Vue de Monde), Papadakis has opened a smart-casual Italian restaurant with front-of-house manager Luke Skidmore (ex-Estelle and Saint Crispin). Sitting on that special little stretch of Little Bourke Street that is also home to +39 Pizza directly opposite, Du Nord a few doors up and Brother Baba Budan a couple down, it’s enough to make you think there’s something magic in the air here. Not to mention high-performing Asian restaurants Shanghai Street and Little Ramen Bar a little further down the road, this is quickly becoming my go-to place for a casual dinner in the city.
The restaurant is named after the high quality type 00 flour used to make fresh pasta, hinting at the main focus of the menu. With a focus on house-made pasta, it’s a menu that’s eager to please, with a neat little list of entrees, a couple of non-pasta mains, and four or five desserts. While the flavours are all classic Italian, the food here is adapted to a modern palate with a few exciting tweaks. Take, for example, Papadakis’ technique of smoking spaghetti for one dish, or adapting the usually humble tiramisu into a sexy little gateaux. Despite these little tricks, Tipo 00 has an honest, down-to-earth but sophisticated atmosphere. The geometric floor and the wood-panelled bar up the fancy factor a tad. It’s right up my gastronomic alley – here’s what I made of my two visits there.
The first time I ate at Tipo 00 was with J as a little Christmas luncheon. Mid-week, Tipo was pleasantly full, with a mixture of business people and smartly dressed shoppers enjoying some lunch. Things began with some complimentary focaccia with fresh ricotta. Someone please tell me, why did focaccia go out of fashion? Apart from being deliciously chewy, salty and sprinkled with rosemary, what did focaccia ever do to us? Let’s bring it back, please.
We also shared an entree of burrata with roasted eggplant and tomatoes. The burrata was good and went very well with the eggplant, but it could have used a tad more salt to bring out its creamy flavour.
J went for the tortellini filled with asparagus and served with a parmesan and sage sauce. While I thought this was a small serve for a main dish, J thought it was absolutely delicious, especially with the lighter asparagus filling.
I was tempted by a number of dishes on the menu, but my curiosity was piqued by the spaghetti affumicati – smoked spaghetti with clams, tomato, garlic and chilli. First things first, how gosh darn delicious does that plate look!
The spaghetti is smoked only lightly, so while there was a slight woody smokiness to every mouthful, it didn’t overwhelm the sweet tomatoes and soft garlic. Needless to say it was perfectly al dente. A much bigger serve than J’s tortellini (consistency might be an issue here), this was knock out good, a classic combination of seafood, chilli and garlic.
We also ordered a little mixed salad on the side, which came as an interesting mix of green and bitter leave with some pear thrown in, although I have to say it was overdressed which made the leaves sometimes soggy.
Then, because it’s Christmas, we shared a plate of the ‘Tipomisu’, the kitchen’s take on the classic tiramisu (which long term readers will know is the dessert dish I judge most Italian restaurants on). It’s served as a dense and moist chocolate-espresso cake in the shape of a ring, with a dollop of creamy mascarpone in the middle, and the whole thing is covered by a disc of tempered chocolate. To finish, there is more mascarpone and a warm espresso syrup. It is seriously awesome (this coming from a tiramisu nutter) – go and try it, you won’t be disappointed.
Just a week later, I was having lunch with S (again to celebrate Christmas), and she suggested we meet at Tipo 00. Well, I was all too happy to oblige given my first visit there, especially since it gave me the chance to sample another pasta dish! We began with two glasses of white and a pair of zucchini flowers stuffed with almond paste and deep fried. They were fantastic.
S went for the special of the day – saffron pasta with spanner crab, zucchini and chilli – a light and summery dish with a gentle heat from the fresh chilli. It looked particularly pretty on the plate, and if it’s on special the next time I’m there, I will be hard pressed not to order it!
The white wine we’d been drinking had me hankering for something salty, so I had the orecchiette with broccolini, anchovies, garlic, chilli and asiago cheese. It’s very similar to the orecchiette dish I ate at Rosa’s Kitchen, and if I’m totally honest it’s not quite as good (although perhaps I’ve inflated my memory of that evening with Rosa). I wish there was a tad more anchovy, and a few more breadcrumbs. Having said that, the portion was very generous (especially compared to the tortellini above!), the dish was light, and the broccolini was cooked perfectly.
I like Tipo 00, I really like it. I feel like it’s a place I’ll be coming back to, even though I generally try to eat at new places each week. Tips 00 represents exactly what I love about Italian food – a small number of ingredients treated right and put together smartly. It’s simple but it’s sophisticated, and above all it’s bloody delicious. Cheers to that, and Merry Christmas to you all!
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