Carlton Espresso

11/22/2010 11:13:00 PM

A little while ago we caught up with my good friends Timmy K and Susu B for a midweek dinner and drinks catch-up. When Su told me: "the DOC pizza guys have a pasta place now", I was totally there!

Carlton Espresso
326 Lygon Street
Carlton 3053
(03) 9347-8482

Some of y'all may remember Carlton Espresso as the little piadini and espresso bar on Lygon street near Melbourne Uni.  Well, now they've expanded to the next door and now do a range of pastas and antipasti.

Mmm... I want this fridge!

But... navigating your way through peak-hour traffic on public transport to Lygon street requires a little liquid refreshment.  I can never go past a spritz, not least of all because my friends don't like the mediciney taste of aperol/campari, and they won't steal my drink! Hehe.

Spritz Aperol - $8.50

I can't remember who ordered the beer, but it was nice and malty.  Mmm.. extra malty.
Tappeto Volante - $7.90

They have a short but well selected pasta menu, each around the $20 mark.  I had a tough time narrowing down my choices, but I'm sure in time I'll sample them all!

I got the kamut fusili (I'm a sucker for ancient grains, like spelt and kamut!) with a deliciously vibrant basil pesto. I loved the pasta, which was both wholesome and satisfying.  I've seen kamut pasta at my local supermarket, but being super-expensive I don't think I'll be making it at home any time soon.
Fusilli (kamut -ancient grain pasta) w/ fresh basil pesto (Liguria) - $20

Timmy's carbonara was leaps and bounds above the standard stodgy cream-soaked carbonara you get at suburban restaurants and takeaways.  With a thin yet rich sauce clinging to the spaghetti, tiny nuggets of guanciale, and loads of coarsley ground black pepper, it was fabulous!
Spaghetti carbonara w/ guanciale, free range egg  & pecorino romano (Lazio) - $18

Su's pappardelle with truffle oil and porcini mushrooms was also a winner, although the woodsy taste might be a bit strong for anyone not accustomed to truffles.  It was also quite dry in that traditionally Italian way, where the pasta itself is the focus of the dish.

Pappardelle w/ porcini mushroom & truffle oil in bianco (Tuscany) - $20

Last up is a lasagne.  The meat sauce had a lovely deep taste, but the edges of the lasagne were slightly overcooked and chewy.  It's always tricky heating up a lasagne to a nice temperature inside without the edges going dry!
Lasagne - traditional w/ meat sauce & bechamel (Emilia Romagna) - $18

And that was it!  A delicious, quick dinner of simple ingredients cooked well.  It seemed a little pricey, but considering the quality of the ingredients I think it's well worth it.  As Timmy said: "you could go to one of the other restaurants around here and have something crap, or pay a bit extra and eat something that's actually good".  Before we went, Su told me she'd googled the restaurant and read some pretty dire reviews of the service, but we were lucky and didn't have any problems at all.  I'll definitely be going back!

Carlton Espresso on Urbanspoon

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  1. those pastas...they look so scrumptious!
    i was recently introduced to aperol and am now a fan too.

  2. Oops, is this where I shouldn't admit that I love those chewy overcooked edges? :D Actually, maybe I should admit it, and then if we ever end up at an Italian restaurant together you can give me all the "bad" bits ;)



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