Italian? In Carlton?
It's perhaps unsurprising that you find Italian food in Carlton. But as every true Melbournian knows, it's generally not to be found in Lygon Street (that's the Lygon below Elgin, north of the cemetery it tends to improve). Last night the Gourmet Wife and I headed across to Nicholson Street, past the previously visited Flor and Aux Battifoles and ventured to Scopri. We chose Scopri for a couple of reasons, one it's close to where we live so I didn't have to drive, which informs reason two: it's BYO ($10 corkage per bottle, Dan Murphy's BYO restaurant of the year for 2010). As such, the Gourmet Wife and I were accompanied by a bottle of Flynn's Cab-Merlot down Nicholson street.
Scopri's a fun little place, fairly small and intimate, but even on a Thursday night the dining room was pretty much full. This is good for them, and made me glad that we were only looking for a table for two (this was an impromptu dinner out to celebrate...well...Thusrday I guess).
As we didn't have to select drinks, we dove headfirst into the menu. The carpaccio of the day was a kingfish if I recall correctly, so steering clear of that I went for the Wagyu Bresaola with rocket, parmesan and cherry tomato salad ($19). Sarah settled on a roasted Gippsland quail ($18). As happens a lot, Sarah and I both chose dishes that were of equal interest to both of us. At least until they arrived and I had my first bite, then I decided I wasn't that interested in the quail. Not that the quail wasn't good, Sarah assures me it was, I was just suddenly overcome with the instinct that I didn't want to share my beef bresaola. I did let Sarah have some of the tomato salad though.
When it came to mains, the opposite situation seemed to occur. We ordered a veal lasagne ($23) and a pot roasted lamb shoulder ($33); the waitress asked if we wanted any salads or anything to accompany these and we customarily declined. I'd say this was a mistake because the mains came with no salads, but then who really likes salad anyway? (The lamb did come with grilled polenta, so that's a side if you absolutely must have something other than meat). As I was saying, at this point the opposite situation from entree occurred and I spontaneously decided that Sarah had made the more astute selection, and that the lasagne looked, smelled, and tasted amazing. Yes, I'm a lucky man to have a Gourmet Wife more willing to share than I. Again, the lamb was an excellent dish, very traditionally Italian (I'd imagine), tender and rich, but the lasagne was amongst the best pasta I've had in a long time.
Because we hadn't filled up on superfluous salads, when the dessert menu arrived we had no problems making a selection. A tasting plate of semifreddo ($15) for me and a "Sweet coffee cup" for Sarah. This was a wafer shell filled with coffee zabaglione (accompanied by a wafer spoon it should be mentioned). This was an impressive dish, but the hazelnut, pistachio and chocolate semifreddos put up a hell of a fight.
As you can probably tell, I have absolutely no complaints to make about the food at Scopri, nor anything else for that matter. This is one of the restaurants that makes me love living where I do; the calibre of places I can legitimately call "local neighbourhood restaurants". Scopri is somewhere I can easily recommend, and I'd imagine I'll be back. I'll probably bring guests too, as even after only one excursion, I'm pretty sure this is somewhere that isn't going to let me down.
Beef bresaola, roasted quail, pot roasted lamb shoulder, veal lasagne, semifreddo, sweet coffee cup
BYO, Flynn's cab-merlot