When it comes to Italian dining, Melbourne has plenty of options, from the classic to the adventurous and beyond. But burgers don’t immediately spring to mind.
Enter Heidelburger, a casual spot in the north-east putting Italian spins on burgers. It’s by Izzi La Brocca, his sister Anna Mandolfo, who heads up the kitchen, and business partner Pietro Scoleri.
La Brocca decided to open a burger joint because he doesn’t like the American-style burgers you can find all over Melbourne, with borderline-sweet buns and sauce oozing out from all sides. To La Brocca a cheeseburger should be simple – the beef patty is the star, and everything else is there to support it.
The Classico, La Brocca’s personal favourite, has a straight-shooting line-up of beef, bacon, cheese, tomato, lettuce, mustard, pickles and tomato sauce. If you want a bit more complexity, the Locale is based on an old-school Aussie burger – beef, barbeque sauce, beetroot, tomato, lettuce, onion and a fried free-range egg. The Lamburger swaps out the beef for lamb, with lettuce, Squacquerone (a creamy, spreadable cheese), tomato and house-made mint mayonnaise.
The team’s background shines through in the Italiano: a beef patty with tomato, lettuce, caciocavallo cheese (similar to provolone), caramelised onion, sundried tomatoes and basil mayo. And the Calabrese is for spice-fiends, with ‘nduja, fresh chilli, Tabasco and caciotta cheese.
Mandolfo makes a lot of the ingredients from scratch: a big batch of mayonnaise is whipped up each day, and eventually turned into basil, mint or aioli versions. A slab of fresh polenta is baked in the oven, sliced and fried to make polenta chips with shaved parmesan. And she makes tiella – a bit like a calzone – using a recipe from the family’s seaside hometown of Gaeta in central Italy.