Vicolo Cafe & Risotto Bar, 28-30 Young Street, Moonee Ponds. Phone: 9372 9500
Just like everyone else these days, I am always looking for where the next opportunity or possibility may arise.
So I have developed a daily routine of always checking the spam file of my email account.
What I find there is almost always … spam.
But, just very occasionally, there is something more interesting.
Through that routine I find an interesting approach from publiicst Yvette and her company X2 Marketing.
Her firm represents, so she tells me, a small number of western suburbs restaurants. Would I be interested in some sort of collaboration with her company and the restaurants involved?
A very, very good half-hour phone conversation ensues.
I like it that Yvette and her partner, Anna, have no set ideas how food bloggers and their clients may interact and they seem to be open to ideas. Even better, the Consider The Sauce Feast concept spark a good deal of enthusiasm.
Both women come from a corporate background, yet have ended up in the same place as CTS, preferring the personal touch and a general embracing of the “small is beautiful” ethos.
Two of the eateries they represent hold no interest to Consider The Sauce at all, but one of them most certainly does.
So it is that all three of us meet at Vicolo, in Young Street, Moonee Ponds. (CTS did not pay for its meal – full disclosure below.)
I am very familiar with Young Street in Moonee Ponds – indeed, Fresh On Young was the subject the very first CTS story.
But I have always been deterred by the somewhat forbidding glass facade of Vicolo, despite a good review from Lauren at Footscray Food Blog.
So I am delighted and happy to find that behind the glass is a classy Italian joint.
I really dig meeting and talking with Yvette and Anna. Despite our different backgrounds, I’d like to think we are on the same page.
On this Thursday night, there is a happy vibe in the place, which is crowded with what I presume are regulars.
Even better, I adore the boss lady, Maria, and the way she sparkles and genuinely seems to care about every table of guests.
Yvette, Anna and I star with a trio of spuntini.
Whitebait ($11) are warm verging on cold, but I’m guessing that in the antipasto swing of things this is perfectly acceptable. They’re crisp and unoily, with the fried richness being cut beautifully by the excellent tangy salad.
Arancini ($10) are a big step up from the tough, unappetising footballs found in generic eateries across the land. These are delicate and variously flavoured with goat, pumpkin and cheese.
Similarly light of flavour and weight is the gorgeous salt and pepper calamari ($11).
As we await our main, Maria is only too happy to give me a brief tour of the kitchen, expressing the hope that I’ll be comfortable with the fact her two cooks are Korean folks trained by herself pretty much from the ground up.
As if I would care!
One of them, Naggie, is happy to be photographed. The other, not so much …
Maria explains how she prepares her renowned risottos in a restaurant context – by mostly pre-cooking the rice and keeping all the flavour packages separate, with the end product being as genuine and delicious as you could wish.
The house red sauce, Maria explains, is made from only the best tomatoes – tinned and puree both.
I get lucky with my choice of main – it’s a casserole-style goat number ($36) that isn’t even on the specials list. It’s sticky, rich and in every way excellent, the tender meat falling easily from the bone in a way that only comes from long, slow cooking.
My companions enjoy their pasta choices – linguini marinara with fish, mussels, pipis, scallops and calamari ($26.50); and lasagne ($23.50).
Desserts all come with a $12 price tag, with the lemon tart and tiramisu going down a treat.
On the basis of our combined meal, I’m happy to conclude that Vicolo does classic Italian very well.
As for possible future collaborations between Vicolo and/or X2 Marketing, stay tuned …
Consider The Sauce’s meal at Vicolo was provided without payment being required. Management had no prior knowledge of what would be ordered, and neither sought nor was granted any editorial input into this story.