Run by Andrea Mantese and his partner Kellie, and attended by genial and attentive staff, the restaurant has the nostalgic feel of an Italian grandmother’s home.
Everything about Pietro e Paolo – a busy but unassuming Italian restaurant in Montague St, South Melbourne – relates back to family. Run by Andrea Mantese and his partner Kellie, and attended by genial and attentive staff, the restaurant has the nostalgic feel of an Italian grandmother’s home. Situated next to the bluestone of St Peter and Paul’s church, Pietro e Paolo is set in a converted school hall with red-brick terracotta, replete with an expansive, almost Tuscan outdoor area perfect for taking in the summer sun while enjoying some of the best Italian cuisine in Melbourne.
The menu is tastefully drawn up in chalk on a blackboard, its dishes and ingredients changing to reflect the seasons and availability from suppliers. The food and coffee are exquisite: wholesome, uncomplicated and constructed with only the freshest produce.
This ‘unfussiness’ is what typifies the menu at Pietro e Paolo. Beginning with an entrée of their signature dish – ‘Calamari Sant Andrea’ – one marvels at the depths of flavour and texture able to be evoked from lightly battered calamari on a bed of rocket with a reduced balsamic dressing. Complementing this is a stunning apple fennel salad with an invigorating mint and lemon dressing. The artisanal bread and pastries are made fresh daily by Andrea, who began his career as a pastry chef and baker. The bread is some of the best in Melbourne, with a crisp and smoky exterior giving way to a soft and fleshy crumb. For mains, one can’t go past the tagliatelle con funghi, which is comprised of parmesan, parsley, and freshly-picked pine mushrooms with a rich, woody taste.
Due to its small kitchen and invariably strong demand from customers, service is often slow, which can make one’s dining experience frustrating given how dissimilar it is to other Melbourne eateries. The dining room is cavernous and can feel cold and draughty in winter. However, none of this detracts from the overwhelmingly positive experience of dining at Pietro e Paolo, which is rightly a favourite of the South Melbourne community, and which ought to be more widely celebrated amongst Melbourne’s culinary scene.