Italian Pantry

For the Home and Garden store sat on the corner of Melville and Murray for a number of years. Their products were fitted neatly into the outdoor area at the rear of the old building that accommodated the administration and smaller gardening goods.

It was an interesting choice by the Italian Pantry to move from a bustling, suburban NoHo street with its associated space and parking to the city’s fringe. The outside area is now furnished for outdoor dining, weather or temperament permitting.

The kitchen necessarily takes up a large amount of the functional space of the building with the bar area adjacent. There’s a table or two as you walk in and around the corner in an alcove. The area that fronts the street is the pantry with its beautiful supply of fresh pastas of various shapes and sizes. There are cheeses, cured meats, anchovies and various delicacies.

Years ago I lured Boozy Friday Lunch Friend out of the city to try the Pantry. It was an experience clouded by ambivalence. Their new presence in the city taunted me, it was time to take a deep breath and try again. The television and the service had been stumbling blocks. These things have been resolved in their current locale. There are no soap operas and the table attendants were warm, personable and professional. Gatecrasher wanted an outing with adults. Boozy and This Girl took her to lunch.

How hungry are you?

You’ll find a handful of starters which includes the modest olive miste, $12, which is mixed home-style marinated olives; the more robust polpette di manzo e maiale, $12; their own pork and beef meatballs, seasoned with parmesan in a tomato salsa; or the obligatory, antipasti. Can’t decide? Share a mixed entrée plate with between 3 and 5 of the options included.

Mains are pasta, pizza and on our visit, winter warmers were still on the menu. Pizzas are around $22 each with combinations like the pancetta e patate, sliced smoked pancetta, rosemary potato with mozzarella or the capricciosa with a tomato base, leg ham, mushrooms, artichokes and black olives. For pasta there’s lasagne, macaroni, spaghetti and risotto. Veal and lamb shanks along with pork belly were fitting additions as their winter warmers.

Desserts are simple – tiramisu, affogato or panna cotta.

The three of us ate: Arancini serve of 2, $12, a Sicilian treat of Arborio rice stuffed with Provolone Dolce cheese and Bolognese, coated in ciabatta crumbs and Parmigiano Reggiano then lightly fried

  • pancetta di Maiale, $31.50, slow cooked pork belly, marinated with Marsala , orange Amaro and fennel seeds, served with seasonal vegetables, rosemary roast potatoes and jus
  • orecchiette con broccoli, acciughe e pancetta , $18.50 entrée, $23.50 main, pasta tossed in Sicilian extra virgin olive oil with broccoli, anchovies and bacon cooked in a white wine and lemon sauce
  • gnochetti Sardi con sugo di Salsiccia e Pomodoro, $18.50 entrée, $23.50 main, house made pasta shells cooked in a rich tomato sauce with Italian pork sausage
  • tiramisu,$12.50, savoiardi biscuits dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone cheese and topped with cocoa.

We shared their Prosecco.

The arancini balls were the best This Girl has tried. The addition of the Bolognese ramped up the flavour considerably. On request they served the dish with three balls so we could all try one of them. One piece was a sufficient starter before a pasta meal.

About the pork belly, Boozy advised, “Excellent crackling, just perfect. Meat itself was tender and flavoursome, fell apart when poked with my fork. Roasted carrots were tasty (really liked that they had orange and purple ones). Portion size was generous.”

This Girl chose the orecchiette which was probably the lightest pasta meal as an entrée and more than enough for lunch for me. It was an enjoyable option with a tick for greens, the flavour of the cured meat and the salt of the fish, all lifted by the lemony zest.

The Gatecrasher, who has an actual Nonna and eats Italian food regularly, said of her’s, “Delish. Filling (of course I ate it all!). I’m not sure if the fennel was in the Italian sausage or mixed through the pasta, but it gave it a lovely flavour.”

Tiramisu served in a latte glass is not the easiest dish to share but we managed to decant it onto the saucer. It was a nice way to end the meal. When I make it I use Frangelico and chocolate.

The Italian Pantry is worth a visit for a warming meal and good pasta to eat in or to take home for cooking.

Find them at 131-133 Murray Street Hobart. Call to make a reservation on 03 6231 2788.

They’re on the web – Italian Pantry

And of course on Facebook – Italian Pantry Hobart 

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