Scorcher reviews: Agostino — ‘The perfect date venue’
By Mark Davidson
Fancy that!? Another Italian restaurant serving quality pasta has just landed in Carlton. Who’d have thunk it?
But before you shrug your shoulders in indifference, hear me out. I’ve been waiting an eternity for this place to open and, now that it has, I couldn’t be more delighted.
Carlton’s newest Italian restaurant Agostino, part of the King and Godfree ‘food precinct’, is now, I reckon, the premier place to come to carbo-load on Lygon Street, especially if you like your wine.
A slick 50-seater booze cave, Agostino has been a long time in the making; neighbourhood icon King and Godfree has undergone a massive three-year renovation and Agostino is the final cog in the machine to click into place.
Named in honour of Frank Agostino — a former grocer and boss of Carlo Valmorbida, who bought King and Godfree in 1955 — this intimate little diner couldn’t be more Carlton if it tried.
Food offerings here include a swish list of snacks and bigger plates of chiefly northern Italian fare.
A plate of tuna crudo with capers, raisins and chilli was a winning way to start. Also on the entrée list is a stunning dish of grilled octopus, new potato, nduja and salsa verde, as well as wagyu bresaola with artichoke and reggiano, and culatello and salted persimmon.
For main, it’s hard to go past the spaghettini with crab, bug, tomato, garlic, chilli and soave. We also enjoyed a bolshy bowl of rabbit ravioli from the special list, which was like a winter’s walk through the woods. Made by in-house pasta maker Piera, the ravioli is served with pine mushrooms, burnt butter, and freshly shaved black truffle. Other pastas include orecchiette with pork and fennel sausage and cime di rapa, and bread pappardelle with rabbit ragu.
The staff were charming and chatty but it was their getup that really piqued my interest: they looked as though they were getting around in white hospital scrubs. I wasn’t sure if they were going to take my order or prep me for surgery.
But clobber aside, Agostino is a welcome addition to Carlton’s ever-evolving dining scene. It’s the perfect place for date night: music is unimposing, lighting is flattering, prices aren’t ridiculous and the wine options are impressive.
Good things come to those who wait, so they say. Now that the wait is over, I hope to be eating at Agostino for many years to come.
Check out what Scorcher has been up to on Instagram — @markjdavidson