The Usual Place
Ever since I started working in the city many moons ago, I can always remember going to Il Solito Posto for a great Italian pasta, after work, during work or just on the weekends. And as long as I remember, I have always had a wonderful meal and a wonderful time there. Nestled underneath 101 Collins street, with the entrance on George Parade, it is a charming restaurant serving great Italian delights.
Il Solito Posto is Italian for “The Usual Place” and it is my go-to place whenever I feel like a great Italian meal. The restaurant is made up of two sections: a casual bistro section called the Caffeteria, and a more formal dining room called on the Trattoria on the lower level. Usually I go to the Caffeteria section, however the dining room has a wonderful array of more formal Italian dishes. Normally I go to the Bistro as I like the casual feel to it and plus I kinda know the team up there and it’s nice to have a quick chat with Michael, Kosta or Steve! The restaurant has changed over the last two years, with renovations increasing the Caffeteria capacity. This has helped reduce the time spent waiting for a table in this section as they don’t take bookings!
Given my recent banishment to Australia’s capital for work, I had my cab stop off at Il Solito Posto so I could pick up my dinner on the way home (seriously, plane food is like half an entrée for me!)…..and boy did it hit the spot. That night I had a wonderful Pork Ragu Casarecce (a scroll like pasta) from their specials board.
The wonderful thing about Il Solito Posto is the variety that is available on the specials board. These are in addition to the solid menu that already details my favourite entrees and mains!
Whenever I dine in, I always like to start off with an appetizer….or two! It’s only been a recent thing where I like to have a starter, but given my penchant for wanting to eat more than my stomach allows, I’ve only given into temptation!
The antipasto plate is a great combination of different types of small antipasti, ranging from baked ricotta, marinated peppers or eggplant, olives, house smoked trout, Italian smoked goods, fennel salad. Previously they had a small scoop (which is not the technical term), of chicken liver parfait, which was simply gorgeous, however due to the popularity of the parfait, it is now a separate item on the menu.
Alternatively, they have flash fried calamari, fresh oysters, fried whitebait, light salads as appetizers too.
The selection of Mains can be made from the menu or alternatively, from the Specials board which has a variety of different types of pasta (ranging from Penne, to Casarecce, Rigtoni, Papardelle to Gnocchi) and also a soup of the day and a risotto of the day. I’ve had some memorable dishes from the Specials board, including a great Orichiette (ear shaped pasta) with potato, pancetta and broccoli, and a very memorable calamari pasta which I had years ago and always remember!
If nothing on the Specials board takes your fancy, then I always go to my three main staples on the main menu.
The first is the Seafood Linguine. The thing I love about this dish is that it is a pasta dish that really bases its flavour on the seafood which is generally a combination of prawns, salmon, white fish, calamari and mussels. It’s cooked in a light olive oil with a dash of fresh chilli, and garlic, a touch of parsley and potentially a splash of white wine.
The second is the Penne Ragu which is one of the staples I order, especially when I order take away. They slow cook the veal in a tomato puree for a long period so that the veal is tender and soft. Add a handful of parmesan and the dish is complete!
The third is the Salmon Farfelle. For those that love a light creamy pasta, this is your dish. The bow shaped pasta is cooked with pieces of salmon, broccoli and cherry tomatoes in a very light cream sauce. Whilst it’s probably the most wicked for your waist out of my three favourites, it is deeeelightful!
If, by now you’ve had as much as I have when I go Il Solito, may I recommend you one of the best desserts I’ve had in Melbourne. Now you may think I’m bias because this place is like my local, but I’ve loved the banana roti and palm sugar sundae at Chin Chin and the crème brulee and souffle at PM24. However, the soft centered chocolate pudding with salted caramel, banana and caramel ice cream is simply delectable. I honestly, love this dessert because the chocolate pudding is so perfectly baked so that when you cut into it, the soft chocolate section in the middle, oozes out onto the dish. Combined with the salted caramel and caramel ice cream, it is a wonderful combination of sweetness!
By this stage, I’m totally rolling out of the usual place….content with the delights that Il Solito Posto brings.
Note: Il Solito Posto does takeaway from its Caffeteria if you work near or around there…or just want to pick up something on the way home! I have been luckily enough to have had great takeaway when burning the midnight oil in the office!
Visit Il Solito Posto at 113 Collins Street. Melbourne