After gaining traction on Tiktok when it opened in May, Pasta Prego has continued to grow in popularity and has consistently pulled large lines. Founded by lifelong friends Lorenzo Fantarella and Isaac Varano, the Chapel Street takeaway joint has become known for Fishbowl-style build-your-own pasta bowls.
Customers choose a sauce and pasta shape and style, then have the option to select from 26 add-ons including anchovies, prawns, kalamata olives and chilli.
Sauces include classics like Napoletana, cream, bolognaise, rosé (a vodka sauce sans vodka), carbonara and pesto, which form the base for the likes of beef ragu, meatball and chicken alfredo. The house-made Italian pork and fennel sausage with rosé sauce is a popular standout, made using Varano’s family recipe.
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“We’re both from Italian backgrounds so [the recipes] are kind of tweaks on what we've learned growing up cooking with our nonnas,” says Varano.
There are also vegetarian options including the Capri made with chargrilled eggplant, capsicums, onions, mushroom and garlic in rosé sauce along with seafood offerings like puttanesca and garlic prawns. Starting at $12.90 a bowl, you won’t pay more than $16.40 for a regular serve, or $19.40 for a large.
After you choose your sauce, step two is picking the pasta. Expect classic shapes including penne (which also comes gluten-free), spaghetti and fettuccine along with pillowy gnocchi, spinach and ricotta ravioli, and beef tortellini.
There is also risotto – choose vegetarian or herbed chicken – plus sides like hand-rolled beef and pork meatballs, and garlic bread made using sourdough Vienna – with a cheesy option, too.
The pastas aren’t made in-house but are sourced from local suppliers. Fantarella says they are always refining their offering. “Every day we tweak something a little bit to see how it goes and how it tastes and then ask customers for feedback.”
The venue is hard to miss, with a striking green facade. Elevating your average takeaway joint, the light-filled space, which was largely built and fitted out by the duo, is decked out with terrazzo tiles from Italy, crisp white accents, retro posters and four window-facing bar stools to perch on. Outside, there’s room for another 12 people to enjoy their meal under a covered verandah.
361 Chapel St, South Yarra
Sun to Tue midday–3pm, 5.30pm–9pm
Thu midday–3pm, 5.30pm–9pm
Fri & Sat midday–3pm, 5.30pm–10pm