Melbourne’s incredible Italian cuisine is well established. But in the clamour to laud the city’s great restaurants, the businesses that will help you create Mediterranean flavours in your own kitchen can be overlooked. In partnership with Peroni, Broadsheet presents a mix of the well known, the under-the-radar and the far-flung purveyors of take-home Italian goods.
King & Godfree
A landmark that barely needs introduction. Situated on the corner of Lygon and Faraday Streets, this is one of the oldest licensed grocers in Australia.
There are walls of neatly stacked mineral water and imported beer, wines and spirits. But that’s just an aperitif for the inner aisles dedicated to everything Italian: artisan pastas, cold-pressed olive oils, condiments, gourmet sauces, a fully stocked deli and a terrific selection of bread.
Despite its history, right now King & Godfree is about the future. The Valmorbida family, which bought the store in 1955, is planning an entire mini precinct of food outlets to surround the corner.
The first phase was gelateria, Pidapipo, which opened in December. Phase two involves a wine bar between King & Godfree and Pidapipo, and phase three is a restaurant on the Faraday Street side. But despite a minor facelift in October, and a greater emphasis on cafe service, King & Godfree will remain a one-stop shop for an impressive Italian feast at home.
King & Godfree
293 Lygon Street, Carlton
(03) 9347 1619
Pity the fool who turns his nose up at Boccaccio’s IGA branding. “Fifty years and still going strong,” the D’Anna clan likes to say, but really, its Boccaccio Cellars isn’t simply maintaining; it’s improving.
Freshly refurbished, the new store is striking. A mural of the eponymous Boccaccio – the 14th-century Italian writer, poet and imbiber – is an appropriate introduction to the acres of produce inside.
Boccaccio likes to boast of its 3000 wines. Many are from Europe courtesy of the D’Annas’ sister operation, Mondo Imports. But the family actually got its start in the 1960s delivering fresh bread, spaghetti and oil to the crowds of Italian migrants pouring off the boats into Melbourne’s growing suburbs.
The D’Annas still deliver – Australia wide these days – but its Balywn store is a mecca for hungry Melburnians. It’s a Mediterranean-influenced grocery, delicatessen, butcher, green grocer and bakery.
The in-house cheesemongers, Bernard and Jery, almost steal the show with their ridiculous array of European products, which include Tete de Moine from Switzerland and Reypenaer gouda from the Netherlands. Still, the gents are beaten out by what more or less amounts to a refrigerated installation-wall of prosciutto imported directly from Parma. Good luck leaving without any.
1030–1038 Burke Road, Balwyn
(03) 9817 2257
DOC is a latecomer to the deli game, but was probably always going to be a success, built as it is on the intimidating reputation of Tony Nicolini’s DOC Group, which includes DOC Carlton, DOC Espresso, DOC Albert Park and DOC Mornington.
Modest in size, DOC Delicatessen is nevertheless loaded with specialty imports, smallgoods and an eclectic selection of international and locally sourced cheeses (stilton from England, Saint Agur blue from France and truffled Pecorino from Italy). Behind the spiffy counter is an incredible range of cured meats, including Spanish pata negra, Serrano ham and more. Italian beers and wines are scattered about the place as well.
The fluent Italian of the signori can initially be intimidating, but they’re always happy to show you what’s what. And a the fit-out accounts for the rest of the charm – Pietra Grigia marble, hand-treated, recycled timbers and polished-concrete floors are a fitting canvas for such terrific produce.
330 Lygon Street, Carlton
(03) 9347 8482
Pasta Al Dente
When you walk inside Pasta Al Dente you’ll find two wood-fire ovens, one pumping out piles of crusty panini, olive ciabatta rolls and mezzaluna loaves, the other working its magic on takeaway pizzas.
Still, you’re here for what’s in the middle of the store: freezers overflowing with gourmet pasta. The scale is ridiculous. Five-kilogram bags of ravioli and tortellini leave you wondering where you’re supposed to keep it all. Elsewhere, handmade arancini, pizza balls and meatballs are all ready to take home and pop in the oven.
Stop off at the deli for something to snack on during the drive home.
Pasta Al Dente
18 Assembly Drive, Tullamarine
(03) 9335 1944
Enoteca Sileno is about as slick as the name sounds.
Extra-virgin olive oils made with ancient varieties of olives; a comprehensive range of balsamic vinegars and vincotto; Ligurian pesto; internationally recognised pasta; rice; preserved black truffles from Tuscany: everything at Sileno is quality. It’s all also labeled with is place of origin.
Don’t know what the hell to do with any of this stuff? No dramas: it offers regular cooking classes. The extensive North Carlton location does the rest; handsome and convenient. There's also a restaurant on-site, where young chef Angelo Angerami will cook you authentic Italian food.
920 Lygon Street, Carlton North
(03) 9389 7009
It’s almost easier to think about what you won’t find at Mediterranean Wholesalers. Some like to think of this place as the Costco of imported Italian goods, the range is that extensive and the bulk-buying options so attractive.
What kind of pasta were you after? Doesn’t matter, because Mediterranean Wholesalers stocks it. Need some wine or obscure Sicilian liquor? It almost certainly has that, too. Meanwhile, the deli peddles specialties such as San Daniele prosciutto, capocollo, bresaola and Italian-inspired local meats, as well as a boatload of Italian cheeses.
It’s about making the exotic, domestic; Mediterranean Wholesalers is what you might imagine is a typical supermarket back in Italy. So, arrive before the morning rush, settle in at the cafe and start making a shopping list. Then grab a trolley and go nuts.
482 Sydney Road, Brunswick
(03) 9380 4777
This article is presented by Peroni.
- King & Godfree 293 Lygon Street, Carlton (03) 9347 1619 www.kingandgodfree.com.au
- Boccaccio 1030–1038 Burke Road, Balwyn (03) 9817 2257 View profile
- DOC Delicatessen 330 Lygon Street, Carlton (03) 9347 8482 View profile
- Pasta Al Dente 18 Assembly Drive, Tullamarine (03) 9335 1944 View profile
- Enoteca Sileno 920 Lygon Street, Carlton North (03) 9389 7000 View profile
- Mediterranean Wholesalers 482 Sydney Road, Brunswick (03) 9380 4777 View profile