Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Carlton Espresso – (Melbourne, Australia)

  I have always wanted to blog about this shop and also so many other Melbourne restaurants,  but after speaking to a Melburnian friend this morning made me realised how much I do miss here.  It has it’s highs and also it’s lows,  but I am comparing it on an international scale as always and I honestly think Melbourne has some of the best foods in the world.  Some are fusionized,  but here at Carlton Espresso a simple café they aim at the other way and try to be simply authentic Italian.    Lygon Street in Melbourne is really touristy bounded and most of the Italian foods are average with just a few exceptions.  You have got to pick carefully here.   The staff in Carlton Espresso always speak in fluent Italian language amongst themselves  -  though I do bet that whenever they fly back to Italy they would often be treated as somewhat of an outcast due to their Australianised-Italian accent,  much like A.B.C’s repatriating back into Hong Kong are by virtue of accent isolated by Locals for being all so English like yet Chinese in look.   That’s how the world operates these days,  everyone tries to pre-judge you...   Carlton Espresso is the sister addition to D.O.C Pizza and Mozzarella Bar (Melbourne) 



 

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Aged Ham with Lots of Italian Mozzarella Items -
This shop is just so Italian,  yet Australianized. 
It makes it all the more fascinating.





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*Spaghetti Kamut alla Carbonara - with Lardo del Contadino,
Free Range Egg and Pecorino Romano – $21
This was their more seasonal dish,  but the Lardo del Contadino was like a Guanciale in taste and highly aromatic.   The whole package was just simply fragrantly sublime and convincing with the perfectly eggy and cooked pasta.  I have got to say,  this was BY FAR the best Carbonara I ever have had.  Including in Rome itself.  This should be on the permanent menu.  The similar Carbonara Pizza I had at sister shop D.O.C Pizza and Mozzarella Bar (Melbourne), was also great except for the pizza base.     ~  12/10






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Italian Buffalo Mozzarella and Smoked Scarmoza stuffed with Olive -
Since it is all Italian imported,  the profit margin is definitely lower than those produced in Melbourne itself.  Then again, who doesn’t want to compare between the Melbourne made or Brisbane made Mozzarella to the real Italian version?  The premium is justified .  Also don’t forget that behind New York city,  Melbourne has the 2nd largest population of Italian Immigrants in the world believe it or not.    I liked these cheeses but picking from the menu,  the range wasn’t so full compared to the dedicated Italian cheese rooms,  such as available at Enoteca Sileno (Melbourne).   ~ 6.5/10






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Spaghetti with Olives and Tomato -
Someone wanted something simple tonight... 
Came with a piece of bread and grated Parmesan.  It’s Comfort food done very well.





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I came on Several Occasions -
I won’t post duplicate photos of basically the same thing as I have been a few times here and ordered same dishes on several occasion so let’s just post 1 pic of each that wasn’t repetitive.  This is served at the early dinner Appetitivo Hour session.  Not bad, but not entirely enticing and the peanuts were probably the coolest bit as they were huge.






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House Reds and Whites -
The red wines definitely trumps the whites here, as proven on several occasions.  The whites were sometimes attacking the senses even as quaffer drinks.  The good thing is that they only cost a few dollars here per Glass.  Afterall this is surrounding Melbourne Uni district.   Carlton Espresso is one of the best shops around here though when it comes to heart and authenticity and it is fun to see the staff speak in Italian,  when fully knowing they are more Australian in heart!   I also like Tiamo or University Café or even Brunetti,  or Carlton Wine RoomOr DOC Pizza and Mozzarella Bar which is also owned by the same restaurant group as here.  But when it comes to real Italian food this is the place to go to on Lygon Street by a large margin!   






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Organic Penne with Smoked Mozzarella, Crispy Speck & Zucchini Alto Adige – $21
This was quite lovely indeed with a great balance of saltiness flavours and 2 textures. 
Why doesn’t everyone make this ?   This is not one of their daily hand-made pastas but was good enough all the way  ~  9/10






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Squid Ink Tagliatelle with Scallops and Fish Seafoods -
Pastas here are worked on rotation.   A few are hand made and a few are based on dried pastas.  This dish is of the fresher daily made type,  but were very al dente tonight with good squid ink flavour.  It was really homely indeed,  but possibly a little to under proportioned as a primi course.   Nevertheless it was good for a café type environment..   ~  7.5/10






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More Antipasti Dishes on one of several Visits,  this place was addictive -
Not bad but somehow expected some additional or more variety of items to come.. Kind of like that offered at Bomba Stuzzichini e Aperitivi (Melbourne).  But this is just a café afterall..






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More Beers and Wines as is expected -






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Pappardelle Thick Noodles and Porcini & Truffle Oil in Bianco -
This was simply hearty with a Melbourne-Italian way,  What else can we want?  It actually looks decent by presentation and tasted equally great with a good mix of porcini mushroom flavour with just a hint of truffle oil,  with the pappardelle past cooked all al dente.  For me personally what I find quirky about this dish,  is that the recipe does sound simple enough but I cannot find it anywhere else in the world.   It is very addictive and it is definitely very authentically Italian in spirit.  ~  8/10


 

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Farfalle with Granchio, Finocchio, Menta & Basilico -
A butterfly pasta with Crab, Fennel, Mint and Basil.  This was great stuff!  Despite the pasta not being one of their daily House Made ones…  Drool…   ~  8/10







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One of Jamie Oliver’s favourite pasta brand -
Their Olive Oil is not bad actually.  And considering that this shop is more of a café,
it is appreciated already as you can free pour this from the table.






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Peroni Draught Beer -






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Lasagna -
This was surprisingly one of the weakest dishes encountered here.  After a silent complaint to the staff and thanks to my blogger friend from:  http://0tea.blogspot.com/   for lending me this photo as I ate with him on that night,  but forgot to take a picture myself  (I concentrate too much on the food sometimes).  This was too dryish and despite having a hint of besciamella sauce as well as some minced meat with tomato,  was a little too hard pasta wise and not enough lubrication.   I think we could do with more meats and besciamella,  and may be a gratinated cheesy top.   And a hint of nutmeg!   It needs more of everything but pasta sheets  ~  5/10

 

 

 

Price:   AUD $20 ~ $30
Ease of Access:   4/5  (near Brunetti or Melbourne University,  near a Melbourne Tram Stop)
Food:   ♕♕♕♕  to ♕♕♕♕♕

Address: 326 Lygon St Carlton Victoria 3053
Ph: (03) 9347 8482.

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