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Melbourne’s Brunswick St has changed over the past 25 years.
The once scr uffy northside precinct has gentrified, as the affluent
beg an to pay top dollar for trendy warehouse conversions, pushing
the financially-challenged ar tists and writers who g ave the area its bohemian
charm to ne w abodes fur ther afield.
The strip’s bars, cafes and restaurants have chang e hands, shape and
cuisine, but Italian café Marios’ remains immune to modernisation.
Opened in 1986 by waiters Mario Macarone and Mario de Pasquale, its
successful recipe is simple : simplicity. With its modest décor of wooden
chairs and poster-rendere d walls, unpretentious wine list and traditional
fare, Marios is a favourite for a hearty pasta, first-rate coffee or toast and
Heavily-laden outlet shoppers share a break-the-day brew along side laz y
lunchers and dating couples g etting cosy over a sangiovese at the window
It’s a top spot for celebrity spotting. During our dinner meal, come dian
and Rockwiz host Julia Zemiro popped in for a creamy pasta, glass of red
and a g ood old chat to the staff.
The waiters spor t waistcoats and long aprons and, while there is some
accusation of haughtiness (check out the back door of the ladies’ loo for this
lively debate), it’s a nod to the air of tradition and class both Marios wanted
Mains var y from slow braised lamb too osso bucco but the real test for any
Italian food is in the basics: breads and pasta.
Once hailed as the best garlic bread in Melbourne, our three pieces for
entrée did not disappoint. It was light and fluffy on the inside with just
enough crunch in the crust, and garlic for taste but not to terrify new friends
made later in the evening .
The bruschetta takes a quick break from tradition, with not a tomato in
sight. In its place are g enerous helping s of cooled, roasted pumpkin, ricotta
The Penne Matriciana was ser ve d piping hot, with tasty pancetta, tomato
and chunks of chilli for spice. Delicious.
My girlfriend recommends the g nocci with pancetta, ricotta, pumpkin
sauce and topped with delicious salt-infused and lightly fried sage leaves.
It’s a filling dish, and can easily become a che wy dough-fest. Not here. Light
and crumbly, this dish would tempt naysayers to return to the g nocci fold.
To avoid complete carb overload, try a light side of green beans with
toasted almonds, fetta and parsley.
Marios ser ves breakfast all day too, g ood ne ws for hang over sufferers
emerging in the late afternoon.
303 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, (03) 9417 3343
Open seven days from 7am to 11pm.
Marios’ Cafe &
Simple Italian fare that satisies the palate.
By Cathy Anderson
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