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Kate reviews Park Street Pasta and Wine (and gets an Italian lesson!)

Park Street Pasta and Wine – 268 Park Street Sth Melbourne – www.parkstreet.net.au

Neighbourhood joint. Friendly service, hand-made pasta, great wine. What more can you ask?

Park Street Pasta & Wine boasts all of this – plus a classy fit out, without the usual too-cool-for-school overtones.

Plenty of terms I wasn’t familiar with on the menu, but we didn’t have to ask for an explanation, our waiter took us through it section by section, with plenty of detail and suggestions.

The polpette were a pleasant surprise, where I expected the usual meatballs in a rich tomato sauce, what turned up were large pork shoulder balls, panko-crumbed and fried, sitting on a gorgeous, light Genovese pesto.

WA Octopus is blanched, rinsed, then slowly simmered in sherry vinegar, red wine, herbs and spices. It’s finished over charcoal and served with a romesco sauce (roasted almonds, hazelnuts, capsicum and sugo, with a splash of sherry vinegar), then garnished with oven-roasted Jerusalem artichoke and fried sweet potato crisps. Roast Jerusalem artichokes – where have they been all my life?

To the pasta, and tagliolini al nero is a flavour explosion. Egg pasta dough with squid ink is cooked al dente, and scattered with Goolwa pippies, cuttlefish and shaved fennel. Nduja (spicy spreadable salami) is whipped with olive oil and added to the pan with seafood stock during cooking. To finish, the bottarga is added – salted, cured fish roe that is shaved over the top for a final salty kick.

Thick sheets of parpadelle are accompanied by a Bolognese ragu, made with milk-braised beef brisket, pork shoulder and pork fat. It’s actually a lovely light sauce, perfect for summer – some sofritto, chicken stock, tomato puree and red wine with parmesan reggiano. A beautiful, simple dish.

I think I expected something akin to a tiramisu in ordering the ”Caramelia chocolate, frangelico cream, walnut sponge” – it was anything but. A stunning quinnelle of chocolate infused with brown butter and dulce de leche, Frangelico custard folded in with roasted hazelnutes, studded with walnut brownie crumbs. It was stupendous. Evil, but stupendous.

The service is impeccable, the entrees are creative, the pasta is spot on – but it’s the vibe of the thing in the end, Park Street Pasta and Wine just has a fabulous feel, you just want to come back again and again.

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