Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vicolo Risotto Bar

This is a sponsored post for Australian Mushroom Growers' "Mushroom Mania" campaign.  The Mushroom Mania campaign is on for all of July 2012 and over 2,000 restaurants are participating by putting delicious mushrooms on the menu.  Please see end of post for full disclosure.


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!

Vicolo Cafe & Risotto Bar on Urbanspoon

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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  1. Love the idea of a risotto restaurant! That mushie risotto looked so chock-a-block with exotic specimens, just lovely.

  2. Yes, I always order what I wouldn't or couldn't cook at home. Duck risotto is often top of that list!

    1. Glad to see it's not just me! Rosti, confit, brussels sprouts that actually taste decent... The list goes on!

  3. James In FootscrayJuly 21, 2012 at 6:47 AM

    Is it a little bit posh Lauren? It seems to have the same sort of older, Essendon-ish crowd as somewhere like China Max.

    1. Not really James... Waiters had smart white shirts and black pants but the tables had that removable shiny butchers paper on them... Cheese grated at the table but not pompously.

      I'm pretty curious about China Max! I hear they do yum cha but am sure it's nowhere near as good as Gold Leaf.

    2. James In FootscrayJuly 22, 2012 at 9:04 PM

      My main memory of China Max (a couple of years ago now) was waiters in bowties and silver service - seemed quaintly old-fashioned!

  4. I agree - this is definitely the season for risotto, casseroles and slow-cooked meals. It's the only thing keeping me from despair until Spring! That mushroom risotta looks/sound fab.

  5. It most certainly is stew, soup and risotto weather. We have even experienced this cold snap over here in the usually sunny Perth. Dropped to a Melbournesque 1 degree this morning ....eeeep!

  6. I had dinner at Vicolo last night with my wife - very impressed! We've recently moved to the west and we're starting to go through your blog and pick out places we'd like to eat at :)

    1. Hi Mark, brilliant news! Hope you find some winners - well, no need to "hope", really - there's much gold in these thar hills!


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