• Etto (Clarendon Street, South Melbourne)

Let me introduce you to Etto; a new pasta bar on Clarendon Street, which tempted me with fresh pasta and was started by Regent Theatre chef, Stephane Meyer, and  Zane Maddock.  Wine and pasta is the perfect combination.  But like most newly opened eateries, Etto is still awaiting its licence.  The pasta part is down pat. 

Adjoining the Clarendon Street shopping centre, Etto is not where one would expect to find a delicious meal.  Arriving early, there were only a couple of others eating....this would soon change.

Let me introduce you to Denise; my friend and fellow foodie who I have almost converted to a vegetarian diet.

“I’d expect a pasta bar to have a warm and inviting atmosphere,” commented Denise.

“I guess it does a lot of take away,” I replied eying the counter with paper noodle-box-type containers and a bag of uncooked pasta holding down a sign saying: “Take me home”.  We were seated at one of the two inside tables, it was too windy to sit outside comfortably.

And what did we eat?

The ravioli was tempting and of this there were two vegetarian options – mushroom and leek (ordered by Denise) and ricotta and spinach (ordered by me).  For the sauce, Denise chose the vegetable caponata, I chose the Al Crudo of goats’ curd and capsicum.

“I like that the capsicum is not overcooked, but the pasta is a bit too al dente,”  observed Denise whilst happily arranging another mouthful on her fork.  It had a smoky flavour and was like a ragu with eggplant and tomato.  She preferred my dish.

The spinach and ricotta ravioli had a creamy centre.  I don’t mind pasta a bit al dente, especially when fresh, and I could taste the freshness of all the ingredients.  The sauce was very light like a smooth, thin yoghurt, instead of goats’ curd in chunks.  It had minimal, miniscule slices of capsicum, juicy black olives in pip-less halves and parsley.

After we had already ordered and eaten, we were brought a tasting of spinach tagliatelle with pesto.
“You have to try the long pasta,” we were told as the man from Alsace nervously served us.  We assumed it was a signature dish.

The fragrance of garlic was mouth-watering.  The basil pesto was topped with breadcrumbs, like mini fried croutons, and pine nuts. The spinach tagliatelle was beautiful in texture, the sauce garlicky and more-ish despite having just finished a whole bowl of ravioli.

The salads took the same note of simplicity with fresh ingredients.  The slaw with white cabbage had a refreshing fennel base, carrot and parsley, crisp and fresh with dressing.

The green salad had mixed salad leaves, cucumber, finely sliced onions and a tangy dressing.

The pasta is fresh.  It is easy.  And you know what you are eating, giving it a sense of healthiness and quality among a plethora of take-away options.  As the time passed, well-dressed, smiling women lined up to get paper boxes of take-away.  It seems Etto will perfectly fit the South Melbourne crowd.

261 Clarendon Street 
South Melbourne 3205
03 9696 3886
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