Let’s start this Editor’s Test, with the following: if you are looking for great Italian food with a great atmosphere and delightful staff, you must visit Pinocchio‘s.
This fabulous restaurant, established in 1971, has long since been a favourite of Melbournite’s and those visiting – and for good reason! Recently renovated, the new venue is delightful in it’s rustic, neo-classic appeal making you feel like you are visiting an Italian village in the heart of modern Melbourne. Wine bottles (all available for purchase) line the walls and vintage drawings of the story of Pinnochio make you feel right at home with nonna.
Now let’s talk food – the menu is simply delicious. Chichetti (sharing plates), antipasto and a selection of bruschette allow a delightful selection for entree. With so much option, we tried the chichetti sharing board which features six of the chefs favourite sharing plates which was a great way to try it all. If you do decide to go for the single sharing plate options, I would highly recommend the baked herbed ricotta with a blood orange reduction, panino di agnello – sticky pulled lamb shoulder in a sweet brioche roll which was our and our host’s favourite and the mushroom arancini which was deliciously soft and perfectly cooked.
Classic Italian style foods frequent the menu with a range of pizza, pasta and risotto options as expected however they are far from ordinary with a range of secondi not to be missed. We sampled the Frutti Di Mare – spaghetti with mussels, prawn, squid and fish all cooked to perfection and the Lobster Risotto also expertly finished. Seafood always scares me, and given the attention to detail and flavours these are just not to go past.
Outside of savoury, the dessert platter was fabulous featuring a lemon tart, tiramisu (apparently almost just like our Italian host’s mother used to make) and a lemon gelato – highly recommended. Also popular is the nutella pizza which is the apparent signature dessert of Pinocchio’s and crowd favourite.
Not being a huge wine connoisseur, we put our faith in our host’s expertise and we sampled a range of wine which was perfectly matched. Something I would really recommend as we sampled wine from all over Italy whilst having something to match our meals to the T.
What’s more, is the expansive knowledge of the staff and host’s at Pinocchio’s who are mostly Italian, providing a breadth of experience and history to Italian food, unlike anywhere I’ve visited. Cheerful, excited and so happy to serve, we had a great time chatting and I cannot commend the service enough. It was wonderful hearing about our host’s Italian background and it added a very special touch to our meal.
For those social media savvy, Pinocchio’s is here to reward you. A Facebook Check In rewards you with a glass of sparkling, a twitter upload of your cocktail earns you your second one free and an instagram selfie of you and your friends means a free nutella pizza – #amaze.
As I’m sure you can tell, I had a wonderful and down to earth Italian experience hard to come by in fast,modern and price obsessed Melbourne where Italian food is often delegated to the pizza delivery zone of food service. For a true yet very “Melbourne” Italian experience with a warm and humorous atmosphere, you must-must-must visit Pinocchio’s.
You can visit Pinocchio’s at the following:
152 Toorak Road, South Yarra 3141
(03) 9867 2772
358 Hampton Street, Hampton 3188
(03) 9598 4188
Facebook: Pinocchios Italian South Yarra + Hampton
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