Thursday 5 November 2009

Barbagallo: inner-city Melbourne just scored another chic pizzeria

Barbagallo Trattoria e Pizzeria
103 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne (map)
9639 6222


I'm currently working on secondment well out of the city, so imagine my frustration when my friend Miss O emailed me on Thursday to let me know that I Carusi founder Pietro Barbagallo's new pizzeria on the ground floor of her building had finally opened - during my absence!! Luckily, the family wanted to go out for pizza on Cup Eve and was having trouble finding a decent pizzeria that was open, so I suggested we head into town to check it out.

It's called Barbagallo, and it occupies the Lonsdale Street building that Luke Mangan had previously leased for his Salt Grill Melbourne that never was, a couple of doors down from Seamstress. Barbagallo opened for family and friends on Thursday, and to the public on Friday. Both a trattoria and a pizzeria, it has a menu featuring antipasti, primi (pasta), pizze and an interesting-sounding brodetto di pesce - a seafood broth with tomato and shellfish.


We started with a few antipasti to share: burrata with fresh tomato and bruschetta ($14) and bresaola served the traditional way with rocket and Grana Padano (also $14). I loved them both, though the burrata needed a good pinch of sea salt.

Burrata e bresaola

I chose the pizza with pork and fennel salsiccia, mozzarella, tomato, onion and chilli ($18). Really nice - quality mozzarella, a substantial chilli kick and sausage flecked with fennel seeds. Dad had the pizza ai funghi: asiago cheese, enoki, shitake and king oyster mushrooms ($19). Surprising to see so many Asian mushrooms on an Italian pizza, but they tasted lovely.

Pizza con salsicciaPizza ai funghi

Birdie ordered the pizza with tomato, mozzarella, rocket and prosciutto ($18). She felt (and we agreed) that the prosciutto had been sliced too thickly, so she ditched half of the slices. Mum and Ale (the Italian exchange student currently staying with them) each ordered the pizza with taleggio and asparagus ($18), which was sensational. Love that the asparagus spears were kept long!

Pizza con prosciuttoPizza con asparagi e taleggio

The pizze were all in the $16-$21 range (Ladro prices), but we - and the bona fide Italian dining with us - felt the quality of the pizze (the dough especially) justified the prices. We were less impressed however at being charged $8.50 per skinny glass of Trumer Pils or stubbie of Peroni.

Trumer Pils

We did love the calzoncino for dessert filled with dark, milk and white Belgian chocolate ($11) though.


An unfortunate incident with the bill (their credit card machine was out of order all evening but they neglected to inform us until we tried to pay by card, and then they wouldn't process the card manually, leaving Dad with no choice but to stomp down to the 7-11 to get $250 cash out - "They should've told us it was cash only as they were seating us!" he muttered tetchily) put a slight damper on our evening, which is a shame given how much we'd enjoyed the food.


One last thing: this is not a place to bring an elderly relative who is hard of hearing, as the dimensions of the space and the hard surfaces make it noticeably noisy, even with only six tables filled (though to be fair one of those tables had four excited kids on it). "Don't you think it's loud, Ale?" we asked. She grinned "No, in Italy it would be much louder in a pizzeria - you would not be able to hear each other speak!"


Jetsetting Joyce (MEL: HOT OR NOT) said...

Looks delicious! Have you been to DOC in Carlton which I think does amazing pizza - how does it compare?

cloudcontrol said...

Sounds like a good friday night option, though I'll bet it will be hard to get a seat on Fridays!

Have you tried the pizze at the Baden Powell Hotel? I went there recently, and I would compare it to Lladro, though the toppings aren't quite as adventurous. The prices are similar - $15-20 per pizza. I'm curious to know what you think... maybe we should go there soon?

Adrian @ Food Rehab said...

Love taleggio on pizza- but it's hard to find in eateries these days. Will check this place out when I'm in the area

Johanna GGG said...

this place looks wonderful - sadly I am so rarely dining out right now but it is just the sort of place I have longed to find in the city in the past and I am glad to hear kids are welcome - hope to get there some time

Simon said...

Interesting to read your thoughts and see the food! We were there very late after the kitchen had shut shop for food so only managed some pannacotta which was delightful.

You're absolutely right on the noise levels too - there were only a dozen people in the venue when we went and I could barely hear the person directly next to me (at the bar).

It felt like they're still getting their legs and hopefully it will all work out.

Certainly a few things need tweaking but they're mostly easily fixed! (and they actually have a liquor license so that's a good start vs. Sotto e Sopra the new sister venue of Solarino who's still waiting).

I brought an Italian along with me but turns out his Italian is not as fluent as we would've liked as we navigated the Italian only menu (hopefully some English descriptions will appear for those of us not blessed with the language).

Did you have any thoughts on the unusual door handles?

claire said...

Hi JJ: Yes, I have been to D.O.C. several times - it's generally my venue of choice if I've been to the Nova. Here's the review I wrote when it first opened - feels like a thousand years ago!
I haven't been in the last six months or so though. The rest of my family went the other week and reported back that they thought standards were slipping... will have to check it out for myself.

Hey cloudcontrol - nope, haven't been to the Baden Powell. Maybe we can organise a bite there in a few weeks with b-f-k?

Hi Adrian - me too. I had some taleggio last night with slices of baby apples, loved it.

Alas Johanna, sorry to hear you don't eat out as often these days! Worth a look next time you're in the cbd.

Hi Simon - when I went, the menu was bilingual. As you say, they're still getting things sorted.
I'm afraid the door handles were not sufficiently unusual to stick in my memory, so I can't offer an opinion. I did rather like this light fitting though...

Anonymous said...

Hey Claire, I'm planning a pizza binge on Friday in the CBD. I'm wanting to try somewhere new so Trunk is out. Would you rec this over +39 Pizzeria & Degustation?

claire said...

Hi Anonymous - hmmm, that's a tricky one, I like both places. If it's a Friday night they may both be on the busy side - if you want to book a table, maybe phone ahead and see which place you like the sound of better. Both have hard surfaces so may get noisy if there's a Friday night crowd...