What to order at Il Bacaro

Published on 21 January 2021

Photo: Il Bacaro's beef tartare with pea granita, mint oil, mountain pepper and kefir milk (credit: Kristoffer Paulsen)

The inside word on the dining landmark’s 25th anniversary menu from chef David Dellai.

The word at Il Bàcaro is that good taste never goes out of style, but after 25 years of providing exceptional food, wine and service on Little Collins Street, the team behind Carolina Group (Il Bàcaro, Bar Carolina, Marameo, Tetto di Carolina) felt it was time to reinvigorate the landmark venue and venture back to its Venetian roots. "Over the years, there have been so many chefs in the kitchen and we wanted to refocus our attention to the initial intention of the restaurant, which was to showcase cuisine from Veneto," says chef David Dellai.

Today Il Bàcaro champions a simple yet refined approach to Italian regional cuisine, supported by close relationships with Victorian producers and makers. Between services, meanwhile, it's all about Bellini Hour – drop in to the sunny new alfresco dining space on Little Collins and examine a few of Venice’s favourite cocktails at $15 a pop from 3pm-5pm.

We checked in with David Dellai to hear his top tips on what to order.

Name the dish that is quintessentially Il Bàcaro.
From our new menu, I would have to say the risotto of zucchini, mint, zucchini flower pesto and cheddar air overlaid with silver leaf. It's a celebration of Il Bàcaro's 25th anniversary this year and is simple yet elegant, which is quintessentially Il Bàcaro. There’s also our famous spaghettini with Moreton Bay bugs, of course, which has been on the menu since day one. 

How about a drink?
The Bellini menu is great for afternoon drinking in our new outside dining space on Little Collins (my favourite is the lavender), or try the Parmesan Martini for something on the savoury side.

I’m here for a good time, not a long time.
Stop in and have a drink at the bar and try our crudo di mare. It's made up of red prawn cannoli, tuna tartare and caper crackers, scallops charred with a roe mayonnaise, kingfish with rockmelon, and an oyster with pickled cucumber granita. It's perfect for a light summer bite and will leave you well and truly satisfied.

Got anything light and fresh?
I'd suggest our beef tartare with fresh peas, pea granita and tempura fried pea tendrils, finished with mountain pepper, kefir milk, and mint oil.

I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals.
Try the tortino al pecorino. It's a savoury truffled pecorino tart with a silky, creamy texture and a walnut biscuit base. It's served with asparagus, broad beans, puffed pecorino and a pecorino gelato.

Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
Our suckling pig is great! We have a close relationship with Judy Crough from Western Plains Pork. Her suckling pigs are the best going around, and my head chef Alex Tintori created an amazing combination of a blood and cocoa soil, prune gel, morel mushrooms, raspberry sorbet and fresh berries. It’s incredible.

And to close?
The limoncello baba with mascarpone and white chocolate semifreddo, lemon myrtle and meringue. It's texturally diverse, playful on the palate and has been a new customer favourite.

Il Bàcaro, open noon-late Mon to Sat, with lunch service running from noon-3pm and dinner from 6pm; 168-170 Little Collins St, Melbourne, ilbacaro.com.au@ilbacaromelbourne.

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