Are you a parent? OK, whether you are or you aren't, look at the interior of the above restaurant. Nice tablecloths - check. Modern, minimalist interior - check. Artwork on walls - check. Real glasses - check. Now cue me doing a 180 with my brood of unruly children, in search of the nearest Vietnamese or Chinese place that won't mind (too much at least) if we dump the whole basket of chopsticks all over the floor. At first, escape is what I thought of doing, so terrified I was of causing a scene in a "nice" restaurant but we were all so hungry and I had heard good things so we decided to forge ahead.
What's this? Crayons at the centre of every table in a discreet, stylish-yet-functional black canister? Butcher's paper on every table for scribbling for little and big kids alike. Offers when we sat down of plastic glasses for the kids. A kids' menu with a brain - minimalist pizzas and simple pasta dishes including butter and sea salt for the most fussy.
There was even a huge blackboard with chalk perfect for scribbling far enough away so that grown-ups can relax but still keep an eye on the kids (that is my sister in the pic). Had we stumbled into the holy grail - a charming restaurant where adults could actually relax while the children were entertained, and not by dismantling the whole toothpick canister or, worse, the McDonalds playground?
South Kingsville is a little pocket on the other side of the West Gate. I still get excited driving there - you drive to the end of Wembley Avenue in Yarraville, take a right and curve lazily behind empty soccer fields, under the freeway and along the train tracks. You are treated to an intimate view of the Bridge and with a right and a left find yourself in a little village. Every time I go there, it feels like I've found it by accident. A reader, Guru Bob, tipped me off a while ago - thank you!
Oh joy! Pizza within 10 minutes. Dino Girl chose a "pizza bambino" with tomato sugo and mozzarella ($9) with added capsicum to share with her sisters. The tomato sauce is sweet so it got a big thumbs up from the kids.
My sister chose the tiger prawns with tomato, red onion, basil, chilli, mozzarella, rocket and lemon ($18), and it was excellent. The prawns were fresh and I suspect cooked atop the pizza in the oven rather than precooked and therefore reheated. This meant they were bouncy and bursting with flavour. The rich prawns and cheese were set off perfectly by peppery rocket. The bases here are well-made, thin and crisp.
I had the Calabrese salami with roasted peppers, red onion, tomato and bocconcini ($16) which I have to say I was somewhat disappointed with. Calabrese as I understand it is oval in shape, darker in colour, with medium chunks of white fat throughout. This salami was small, round and somewhat pale like the hot salami at most pizza places. I do eat that kind of hot salami but was looking forward to thin-sliced, slighly curled-at-the-edges proper salami. Next time I will order something else.
All the classic pizzas are there as well as plenty of interesting options like zucchini with chilli and basil and even vine leaves with cumin seeds and sumac. There is also a range of pastas and salads. They do hand-made gluten-free bases, and the service is patient and genuine.
Non-parents, please do not avoid Motorino when I say it is a kid-and-adult paradise. Happy kids are generally quiet kids or at least quieter ones. We did not leave unscathed - we did break a glass but it was cleaned up without any fuss. This one ticks just about all the boxes - Motorino love!
Food by Motorino
29a Vernon Street, South Kingsville (map)
Phone: 9399 2121
Hours: 5pm - late, Wed - Sun
Door: No step with double door.
Layout: Could easily accommodate if not busy.