Welcome to Melbourne Foodie. The blogspace of a young foodie with a passion for cooking, fine dining and quality food and produce.
Melbourne Foodie, along with the other sources I write for is my way of casually expressing and recording some of the experiences I have had for others to enjoy. I always welcome any feedback,
comments or restaurant suggestions you may have and would love to hear from you soon.
MUST VISIT SOON: Livingroom, Hare & Grace
MOST RECENT FEASTINGS: Pei Modern, Sarti, PM24, Vue de Monde
BLOG OF THE MOMENT: I Eat Therefore I Am
For dinner I wanted to try something new. Choosing a new restaurant is always a hard decision, especially when you are searching for something last minute. It is often the case that when you finally make a decision the restaurant is "fully booked". This was nearly the case for me, but luckily I managed to snag a prime-time booking at Tutto Bene, recommended along with others by Vida, and a place that I have wanted to try for a while now, but have always put it off. For the record the restaurant was full after I arrived, hence I really was lucky to get the booking.
Tutto Bene is described as a risotteria. Most people come here for one thing - risotto, and not just any old risotto, but the best risotto, created by master risotto chef Simon Humble, who has trained extensively in the art of risotto in Italy. I must confess that I am somewhat obsessed with risotto and cook it every week, often for my colleagues at work, some of whom tell me it is the best risotto they have eaten. So I do consider myself somewhat of an expert on the dish, and must say that unlike the stuff served at many other establishments the risotto at Tutto Bene is the real deal and compares favourably to any others that I have tried before.
With a selection of 15 on offer choosing just one risotto is a difficult task. So difficult that I opt to order two. One as an entrée, and the other as a main. That’s fair enough isn’t it? Before I go on to review the signature offerings though, I will give you a bit of commentary on the restaurant.
Tutto Bene is located on the mid level of the Southgate complex, just opposite Flinders Street Station, beautifully overlooking the restaurant. It is a fair sized establishment seating about 40 diners inside, plus more on the outdoor deck. I am seated inside along the window. The views should be fantastic, but are somewhat obscured as a result of the dirty blinds that are pulled down. The restaurant has a real buzz to the place though and is jovial, albeit rather noisy, in a good way. It has a traditional feel with unclothed wooden tables and chairs, and a genuine rustic charm to the place.
After a few moments bread arrives along with the signature Tutto Bene olive oil, which is so good that I almost bought a bottle. I had to resist though, as I already have some great oils at home.
To start with I am offered some olives ($5.50). These are an excellent way to begin the meal here. Tagglasche olives served warm, mixed through with rosemary and roasted almonds. There is enough in one dish for the table, and they are so tasty that you will continue to munch on them until the food arrives.
After a short wait the first risotto course arrives. It should be noted that Tutto Bene does serve many other dishes, which sound and look fantastic but it is largely the risotto that the punters are attracted to, myself included. To start with I have one of the chef's specialties.
"Al Presidente - a unique combination of 2 year old parmigiano and balsamic vinegar, produced from a 1912 mother must, created by our chef for the Italian President visiting Australia" ($19):
This is an excellent combination and not the sort of thing you are going to try everyday. Surprisingly the parmigiano is not at all overpowering, but rather mild and stringy with a slight richness to it. The rice is, as expected, cooked perfectly. The dish is finished with a swirl of balsamic reduction, which adds an extra dimension to the plate and provides a suggestion of sweetness and fullness to an already good dish. Unfortunately the serving plates were not wiped properly before serving, a little slack on the kitchens part. The texture and preparation of the risotto itself is perfect though.
To drink: Leeuwin Estate Prelude Chardonnay
Second Risotto: “Anatra, funghi e salvia – braised duck, porcini mushroom and sage” ($21):
This is more like the kind of risotto that I cook, and it was really good. A creamy, smooth risotto, with a nice, pungent flavour. The aroma of the porcini mushroom was very appealing, as was that of the sage, which was perfectly infused into the sauce. The plate is finished with a drizzling of olive oil and is served steaming hot, unlike the former, which was merely warm. Excellent, classic style risotto cooked perfectly.
To drink: Darling Park Pinot Noir
Shortly after finishing this dish the dessert menu is presented. I am rather contempt already, but have heard many good things about the house made gelato and decide that I must try it. The menu lists a selection (three scoops) for $13.50. I ask for a reduced serving ($4.50/ scoop), and the waiter happily obliges presenting a lovely scoop of limoncello, which is sweet and tart at the same time, with a perfect gelato texture. After a good espresso it is a refreshing way to end the meal.
Tutto Bene is a pleasant, informal style restaurant with friendly service, a nice atmosphere and very good food. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a really good bowl of risotto at a reasonable price. Some may like to know that water is priced at the upper end of the scale at $9.50 for a 750ml bottle, but tap is always an option.
Tutto Bene received a score of 14 out of 20 in the 2008 Age Good Food Guide.
My Score: 14.5/20 - A really enjoyable dining experience.
Food 7/10 (Very good) Service 4/5 (Friendly, efficient) Ambience 3.5/5 (Relaxed, traditional)
And guess what, tomorrow is lazy Wednesday so the adventures must continue. I’m thinking a leisurely lunch in the city would be a perfect way to enjoy the afternoon. Where? I guess I will decide tommorow!