Caffe e Cucina
581 Chapel Street
South Yarra VIC 3141]]>
Tel : +61 3 9827 4139
License: Fully Licensed (no BYO)
Caffe e Cucina, a small dark restaurant is a long-running success story on South Yarra's busy Chapel Street. The interior is happily cramped, with big posters, awards and mementos plastered on the walls, a large and busy bar area, and small tables tucked wherever possible.
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Melbourne’s love affair with small dark sexy Italian restaurants started at Caffe e Cucina about 20 years ago, when it first opened. Everything about Caffe e Cucina is “very” – popular, stylish, dimly lit and confident. The interior is happily cramped, with big posters, awards and mementos plastered on the walls, a large and busy bar area, and small tables tucked wherever possible. Caffe e Cucina looks, smells, and even sounds Italian, since the waiters call their orders in their own melodic language. It’s always been a bit of a celebrity magnet, and as a bar regular told me, “Many famous people eat here, but I don’t like to name-drop.” It might be too dark to recognise them, anyway.
The menu is straightforward, with antipasti, an enticing range of pasta, a few risotto dishes and a smattering of mains including a big juicy steak, fish of the day, pasta of the day, and maybe a special or two. The plate of salumi (cured meats) makes a terrific starter to share, perhaps to be followed by risotto with porcini mushrooms and creamy taleggio cheese. The bistecca, a Florentine-style T-bone, is big enough to share, although plenty of people have perfected the art of wolfing it down on their own. The salads are excellent, and so is the coffee. The wine list is pleasing, with a few unusual Italian wines by the glass.