Published on 12 October 2021
With the arrival of new chef Matteo Fulchiati, Lagotto has evolved from its original all-day café focus to a more evening-oriented restaurant model. But don’t fret, breakfast-Bellini fans – brunch is still a go on weekends, and the Sunday lunch Pasta with Friends sessions are a new drawcard. Chef Fulchiati was born in Parma, one of Italy’s great bastions of pasta-making, and, coming to Fitzroy North via Osteria Ilaria, he writes a menu where freedom reigns and handmade pasta shines. Grab a spot at the bar and you might even see him making it on the marble right in front of you.
There’s a lot to like on the new menus, but to get you started here’s a few hot tips from the man himself.
Which of the dishes on the new menu best captures the vibe at Lagotto now, Matteo?
My pastas. Pasta is comfort food that always brings people together at the table. For me, simple pastas are always best, hence my mother’s cavatelli recipe which I’m serving with lemon and a pesto. It’s a gentle twist on the classic: I’m using kale as the base, with basil, pine nuts and Grana Padano. Our regulars also love our gnocchi; at the moment I’m serving it with braised lamb ragù with a hint of chilli.
How about a drink?
When my mates come in for a good times, they usually order a carafe of Chianti Libre: Chianti, chinotto and a slice of orange. As the Aussies say, it’s a little daggy, but sometimes daggy is better, and it’s always fun. If you’re dining solo you can’t go past the Blood Orange Americano – a base of Applewood’s Okar Amaro, Rosso Antico and blood orange.
What if I’m here for a good time not a long time?
The best drop-in spot is definitely at our bar. Order a Saint George Martini: olive leaf-infused gin by Four Pillars, a good splash of Mancino vermouth, finished with a few drops of olive oil. While the bartender is stirring it down, get a serve of whipped mortadella with potato focaccia and some spanner crab bombolini.
Got anything light and fresh?
You could try our burrata, with spigarello, black garlic and pepitas. If you’ve not had spigarello, it’s an Italian green that looks like cavolo nero but tastes more like broccoli.
And you’re still doing brunch too?
Yes, we’re still doing brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Our cacio e pepe eggs with crisp pancetta is a great way to recuperate from too many vinos. If you’re just grabbing a coffee, we’ve got To Be Frank croissants, cultured butter and Campari jam. Be sure to add a Garibaldi cocktail while you’re at it – it’s the real Italian breakfast "juice".
I like tasty food but I don’t eat animals.
We’ve got you covered. Like our sister restaurants, Congress and Future Future, we have plenty of vegetable-focused dishes, many of which can be readily made vegan. Composed vegetarian dishes have always featured strongly on Lagotto's menu – they’re something I really enjoy cooking. Start with something a little bit naughty like our potato and caramelised onion croquettes topped with Taleggio bechamel, then add some Jerusalem artichokes with pine nut and saltbush. For the main course, it has to be pasta; my tortelli filled with ricotta, silverbeet, walnut and parmesan should do nicely.
Let’s go big. Let’s go crazy. What have you got for me?
On Sunday lunches we go all out with Pasta with Friends. It’s $55 for six-plus dishes, so the value is crazy-good. It’s pushing the boat out, senza price-tag. Sundays are all about slowing down and getting together with family and friends and Pasta with Friends has already gained a very eager following. The menu changes each week and allows me to play around with some classics. Recently we’ve started collaborating with other restaurants in a “versus” series. They book out quickly. Keep an eye on our Instagram for menus and tickets. If you’re after the ultimate way to enjoy pasta with friends, I’d start with a Bottle of Ca' Del Bosco. Made in Lombardy in the Champagne method, it’s a sparkling with biscuity complexity but no shortage of freshness.
And to close?
To finish, order the gianduja rocher. My take on the Ferrero Rocher has gianduia hazelnut chocolate with salted caramel cream underneath. I serve it with hazelnut praline and peanut ice-cream on the side, plus, some gold leaf on top. After all that indulgence you might want to try what I think is the best digestif on our list, Ruccolino Amaro. It’s made from wild rocket on the Island of Ischia just north of Naples. I like mine simply on ice with a wedge of lemon. Salute!
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