261 Clarendon St South Melbourne, VIC 3205
Everyone has them – those days when all you crave is a cheeky carb fest – and there’s nothing more comforting or satisfying than a big bowl of delicious pasta. But in Melbourne, affordable and high-quality Italian food is few and far between. Etto is the exception to the rule, and has been my go-to restaurant for pasta for almost 2 years.
Having recently returned from a trip to Italy, where I indulged in more pasta than I dare to admit, my love for it has only grown. With this, so has my experience and understanding. I was particularly fond of the little street-side pasta bars that sold affordable, quick, yet delicious dishes cooked on the spot. Simple flavours and fresh ingredients were at the heart of these eateries, a philosophy shared by Etto, so I was very keen to make another visit after my trip to see if it lived up to my experiences in Italy.
There are currently 3 locations in Melbourne, and the South Melbourne branch is my favourite. Located along Clarendon Street, it’s housed amongst a number of other popular restaurants, although there’s no missing the bright yellow sign at the entrance. The menu consists of modest but classic array of pastas (just choose a sauce and a type of pasta), pizzas, salads and sides, all for either eat-in or take-away. On this occasion, K and I went for our tried-and-true formula of two pasta dishes and a serving of their mind-blowing garlic bread.
My personal favourite at Etto – beautifully rich tomato sauce with tender herby meatballs. The breadcrumbs added lovely texture and the pasta was cooked, as always, to a perfect al dente.
K’s dish came with a very generous serving of anchovies, and their saltiness worked excellently with the simplicity of the chilli pesto. The fresh tomatoes and baby spinach added freshness to the dish – thoroughly enjoyable.
Etto’s garlic bread is unparalleled in its deliciousness – the ciabatta was crusty on the outside and soft in the middle, and smothered in lashings of fragrant herb garlic butter. Served fresh out of the oven with a sprinkling of sea salt, it smelt irresistible and was devoured in minutes with just a simple drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Etto is among the top pasta restaurants in Melbourne. It embodies the essence of traditional Italian pasta bars while also modernising it to fit the culture of our city. The food is consistently fantastic, with perfectly al dente pasta and classic, simple flavour profiles. Team this with fresh ingredients and a love for Italian food, and you’ve got the perfect combination for a top-notch restaurant. I could not recommend Etto enough if you’re looking for affordable, delicious pasta.