320 Lygon St, Carlton
Phone: 9347 3128

I had a couple of friends who were in town recently; one from Sydney who had never been to Melbourne before. The request was for good Italian food, which is apparently hard to find in Sydney (Sydney-sider’s words, not mine). I was originally going to take them to Maria’s (which I love) but it was booked out on the Friday night, so I crowdsourced another place to try. We ended up at Donnini’s.

The majority of the table ordered the tris di pasta (a selection of three pastas), while a couple ordered the tagliatelle with a pork sausage ragu.

I have often walked past the Donnini pasta shop, eyeing off the fresh pasta, and as such went for the artichoke agnolotti with burnt butter and sage. The flavour of the artichoke was delicate, which worked nicely with the burnt butter.

The service was a little patchy, and I was disappointed that they don’t do BYO. Mostly because I still haven’t gotten around to drinking the bottle of wine that said Sydney-sider had given me for Christmas last year! I thought this would be a good chance to share it with her, but alas no dice.

All in all, Donnini’s is a ‘nice’ place to go for Italian on Lygon St, if you have genteel guests. I prefer my Italian food a little more rustic/hearty/plentiful, which isn’t what Donnini’s excels at. It’s more of a contemporary bistro type of place, I thought.

Donnini's on Urbanspoon

Karaage Raamen at Toki Japanese Restaurant

88 Grattan St Carlton
Phone: (03) 9347 9748

I’m grudgingly coming to the conclusion that you can’t get good ramen in Melbourne.

My main gripe with the ramen at Toki is that it doesn’t even make any pretense of freshness. Pre-cooked vegetables some what let the team down, even with nicely fried chicken pieces. But then again, the soup was overly salty, and the ramen, while obviously not from an instant packet, lacked the springiness and ‘toothsome’ quality which separates good ramen from the noodle rabble.

All this said, the Chef’s special platter that the couple on the next table were eating looked amazing!

Toki Japanese on Urbanspoon