One thing I’ve wanted to see in Melbourne is a fully vegan Italian restaurant, or alternatively an Italian restaurant with an extensive vegan menu. It’s not that we don’t get Italian vegan options here, though in my experience with vegan dining our Italian food choices are mostly limited to things like pizza, pasta and a risotto here and there or a friendly restaurant that can cook up a vegan meal with some notice. I wanted to see a dedicated vegan Italian menu, so I was happy to learn that Maccaconi Osteria Italiana in Clifton Hill had recently introduced a big vegan menu that went beyond pasta/pizza/risotto.
A few fellow vegans have posted photos of their meals in vegan communities and the descriptions of the food were so good, that I just wanted to get there asap. Last night the vegan dining group I go out with had a dinner there and we were fortunate to have a banquet style service. This was ace because when we had initially been discussing the dinner, I had no idea what I’d order off the menu because were so many things I wanted to try. So ending up with this banquet style was great. We paid $40 per head, which was amazing for what we received. Some of us later agreed we were painfully full and that this was a fantastic evening.
I have to do the photo apology thingy, the lens I have specifically for this kind of photography now isn’t working like it used to so there’s a bit of blur, noise and poor focus here and there. But hey, this was really, really good food– trust me!
We were able to see the banquet menu before the day and so I’m going off that. At one point last night I wasn’t sure if what we were served was different from the menu we’d seen but it doesn’t matter, everything was great.
So first up we had, according to the banquet menu and the vegan menu online, three types of antipasti: bruschetta (with an olive tapenade and I believe a sundried tomato spread), misto fritto (rice and pea arancini, ascolane olives, panelle chickpea fritters and macco di lenticchie). The arancini was my favourite but I liked everything here:
The macco di lenticchie was served with croutons. Really good:
We were off to a super start. I’m not sure if I’m getting the order correct but we then had the pita panormus, a potato and olive bake:
I loved the gnocchi forest with the vegan bolognese sauce and mushrooms. I’d order this on a next visit:
Lasagna! Some voted this their favourite of the evening:
The pappardelle ai fungi was excellent. There was a little discussion about what made it so creamy-like. If I had to choose a favourite I’d probably say this dish:
The fagottino di melanzane was another standout:
So this was the point where the discussion turned to the folly of choosing to wear jeans (me) and the benefits of elastic waists and stretch jersey. By the time the scaloppine ai funghi came out, I was just stuffed and could only manage a taste of of everything on this plate. It was good but I couldn’t fit any more in (well… dessert doesn’t apply of course). I’d order this on a return visit:
We had two desserts. Coppa di cioccolata fredda (chocolate almond mousse with nuts) and pannacotta with a berry coulis. The size was perfect after such a big dinner!
It’s great to see an Italian restaurant with such a big, dedicated vegan menu and not just a few basic offerings. Maccaroni Osteria Italiana also have a vegan Easter menu available.
Parking is good because the restaurant is located in a sort of little side strip parallel to the main road, with parking out the front.
I loved my meal there and can’t fault anything. For $40 each it was superb value and I’m really happy we got the banquet style menu. Highly, highly recommend you get there and if you get the chance to have the banquet style menu, do it!
Update March 28th 2016: today I’ve seen some discussion about the separation of vegan and non-vegan cooking items in the kitchen including shared oil for frying both vegan and non-vegan dishes. I would advise you contact the restaurant if this is a concern to you and get your own confirmation. I’ve mentioned this because I know it is very important to many veg*ns.
Maccaroni Osteria Italiana
201 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill