The heart of ‘Little Italy’, Lygon Street has long been a favourite of Melbourne’s students and other locals. With so much on offer, visitors are spoilt for choice, and the only guarantee is having a good time.
When in Little Italy, eat Italian. Il Gambero, towards the south of the street and opposite the green Argyle Square, does some of the best pizzas and pastas around, and for a reasonable price as well. They offer takeaways, so you can have your food in the park if it’s a nice day. Otherwise, the atmosphere inside is jolly and cheerful. The restaurant’s reputation draws in many special occasions and regulars, so it’s always busy and bustling with conversation. The only downside of this is that a booking is recommended if you want to eat in.
For an even more special dining experience, and a more toned-down vibe, 400 Gradi is not one to miss. It’s a bit of a walk up the road from the majority of Lygon’s attractions, but absolutely worth it. The founder, Johnny Di Francesco, has won countless awards and recognition, including the crown of World Pizza Champion from the Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza in 2014. His winning margherita is a must-order. Beyond this classic, there is an extensive list of authentic Neopolitan pizza options, including plenty for vegetarians. The perfect spot for foodies wanting a memorable and delicious dish.
Visit this venue during the day because after dinner, the line gets outrageous. This is no sacrifice, however. On a burning hot Australian summer day, grabbing a scoop or two from Pidapipò Gelateria is among the best ways to cool off. They’ve developed a cult following for the quality of house-made, artisanal gelato they serve, and the delicious flavours they come in, from traditional favourites to eclectic limited offerings. There’s no better place in Melbourne to tap into the sweeter side of Italian food culture. Their running Nutella tap is the perfect way to top it all off.
An iconic Melbourne establishment, Jimmy Watson’s has been around since 1935, serving locals and in-the-know visitors alike. As with all restaurants on Lygon, Italian food is on the menu. But, looking beyond this, there are plenty of other options for all three courses of a great meal, as well as gourmet cheeses and drinks, with the venue doubling as a wine bar. On a good day, sit up in the Wolf’s Lair Rooftop Bar, and pick over sharing plates with friends or family. If you’re visiting in the evening, check out Thin Red Line, the new 1930s-styled bar upstairs that combines old-school charm with great service.
This article was written in association with The Boar, a student publication based at the University of Warwick.