• Maria's Trattoria

124 Peel St
North Melbourne 3051
03 9329 9016

I still remember the night I first tried Maria’s delicious pasta.  We had been at a wine tasting in Carlton, so it was the first time I had ever tried sparking shiraz too.  After too many glasses and a growing hunger, Maria’s was recommended as the best pasta place in the area, much better than anywhere on Lygon Street, we were told.  The justification for this was simple: not only were the owners authentically Italian, but with the market so close, all the ingredients were incredibly fresh.  How could we resist with this description?

Years later, we are still dining at Maria’s.  Maria’s Trattoria has been serving delicious homemade pasta for over 26 years.  You can still spot Maria herself, in the kitchen cooking up every lunch and dinner.  Her family, Anna and Vivian, and friend, Teresa, take orders and serve customers in the relaxed home-style dining area.  The food is delicious.  For me, there are two standouts.

Gnocchi Siciliana
The homemade gnocchi is done as a special, and it is just that.  The texture is amazingly soft and I cannot get enough of this Italian staple.  You can choose to have it with any of the sauces on offer but my favourite is the Siciliana with a tomato base, eggplant, spring onions and soft, juicy, black olives.  The olives in this dish are outstanding - they seem to bubble with the sauce, absorbing its flavour and squishiness.  Delicious and heart-warming, I crave this dish when I need a wholesome meal in sickness.  I often dream about this pasta.

Pumpkin Agnolotti
If there is no gnocchi I am forced to order the agnolotti.  Luckily, Maria’s is very different from any you would buy at the supermarket or see as the only vegetarian option at your local pub.  Homemade pasta sheets are expertly shaped and filled with pumpkin and ground almonds.  The texture of the perfectly cooked, fresh pasta is mouth-watering.  The flavours come together delicately with added interest from the almonds and a creamy sauce with thinly sliced mushrooms.

I only have two warnings about Maria’s:

1)  They are not open on Saturday nights, or anytime over the weekend for that matter (it’s only fair that Maria has some time off too).

2)  The serves are massive.  A couple of times I have been there with friends with big appetites, who ignore my advice about ordering entrée size.  It has always ended in an ‘I told you so’ moment as they attempt to finish, and not waste, their delicious meal.  Sorry, I don’t eat meat so can’t help you out.

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