Pizzeria, taqueria - so why not risotteria? Vicolo is tucked away in Moonee Ponds and specialises in risotto.
From a somewhat uninspiring location off the Woolies parking lot, on a Tuesday it filled up fast with couples and families escaping the winter chill. Vicolo has been open since 2004 and is very gluten-free conscious.
When looking at a menu, I often order what I would never or have no idea how to make at home. Do you do this too? So, duck - check. Sous vide poached eggs - check. My favourite Cantonese whole steamed fish with ginger - check. Risotto largely falls into this category for me too.
Risotto Funghi e Salvia, $20.50
This mixed mushroom risotto was yummy. Under a snowdrift of Parmesan grated tableside, a lucky dip of mushie varieties were ensconced in tender arborio rice. I scored sweet little enoki, with tall stalks like tottering palm trees; fat, velvety oysters; and quartered, nutty buttons. Fried sage leaves added a muted herby flavour.
Risotto Salsicce, $15 lunch special
Here, Italian sausage with fennel seeds and a good dose of chilli married well with sliced Swiss browns, their dark brown tops contrasting against creamy white flesh. Delicious, comforting and just like wearing a big warm winter coat on the inside.
Pear tart, $12
Dessert was a lovely tug of war between pistachio panna cotta, orange creme brulee, good ole chocky self-saucing pudding and many other tempting tastes. We went for this pear tart that was delicious, with tender pear halves on good pastry. Caramel sauce, ice cream and icing sugar put it into sweet overdrive.
Vicolo also do pastas and daily-changing mains that abut the $40 mark. A great deal is the $15 lunch, which gets you a plate of this winter warmer and a glass of house wine. The best tip is that it's valid until 7 pm - Vicolo recommend aiming to sit down by about 6.30 pm so you're sure to order on the right side of 7 o'clock.
I know we love to have a whinge about the weather here in Melbourne (and believe me, when I got hailed on yesterday when it was sunny only five minutes earlier, I was doing more than having a whinge) but I say, 'tis the season of risotto, stew and other lovely slow-cooked things. If you can't change the world, change yourself - embrace the season!
28-30 Young Street, Moonee Ponds
Phone: 9372 9500
Hours: Mon-Fri noon-3pm, Tues-Sat 6pm-9pm
Disclosure: This post is the final in a series of three for Australian Mushroom Growers' "Mushroom Mania" campaign. I had free choice of any three participating Victorian restaurants and was required to choose at least one dish in which mushrooms were the "hero" ingredient. I am being paid a flat sum for my writing which does not include meal expenses. The restaurants were not aware of exactly who was visiting and when but may have been aware that they would be reviewed at some stage over the course of the campaign period. Australian Mushroom Growers and Vicolo have not sought nor been given any editorial control of this post.
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