Grossi Florentino – Cellar Bar

80 Bourke St
Melbourne VIC 3000
+61 3 9662 1811

Okay, so I lied.

Well, actually, I wasn’t technically lying.

We did go to Grossi, but not the Grossi Florentino. Unfortunately, if you’re povo like me, the lunch budget doesn’t always stretch to Florentino’s where standard mains are 45-50 bucks but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on some of the Guy Grossi magic. Right next door from the acclaimed restaurant on Bourke St hill is its little sister, the Cellar Bar (which is where we went). And in between is the middle sister, the Grill. Same establishment, same uber-cool atmosphere, just different prices and different menu offerings.

Sure, we all want to dine at Grossi proper for lunch – apparently they serve the best Italian food in Melbourne – but we can’t all be like Lila Fowler when it comes to eating out (hehh, another Sweet Valley reference!) so if you want to sample some of Grossi’s cuisine, you’d have to go to either The Grill or The Cellar Bar where the prices are relatively cheaper. Not that there is anything wrong with going to either of them. Besides, I think it’s pretty cool (if not slightly pretentious) to meet up with a mate after dining at The Cellar Bar and tell them oh-so-casually, “Adam and I just ate at Grossi.”

Okay, so how was our experience?

We were given complimentary bread with olive oil (I think it was infused with sun-dried tomatoes or something) minutes after I sat down. Heh, for some reason Adam thought that this was the bruschetta that we ordered and got a bit miffed as to why anyone would pay $12 for four measly pieces of plain bread + oil (granted, it was good bread and good oil)
Ahhh, the real bruschetta! It came with porcini mushrooms and pecorino (Italian cheese made out of sheep’s milk that tastes quite similar to parmesan only richer). This was the highlight of the lunch according to Adam and I totally agree. I love how something simple can have so much flavour and intensity. The woodsy and fragrant mushrooms, the drizzle of fruity olive oil, the crispy warm bread. I think this was about $12, which to me, is a bargain.

Adam ordered the cotoletta alla valdostana which translates to crumbed veal topped with fontina cheese. It was served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes – $22. Very delicious and hearty.

I ordered the pesce spada al limone e capperi (Swordfish steak, lemon, capers and peas – it sounds much sexier in Italian, heh). Also $22. While I preferred Adam’s dish over mine, I also thought that the chef did a wonderful job with my fish. Although swordfish is a pretty dense and muscular fish, it was surprisingly tender enough for the lemon juices to run through the meat.

The food was quite good given how (relatively) cheap the meal was – we paid $60 for the entire meal (yeah, we got charged for water … but this place doesn’t seem like that type that’d just give their patrons tap water, no matter how much we Melburnians believe that our tap water is the tops) and we left the joint feeling very full but not in that awful bloated sense that you’d get from eating out at Foodstar or any place that serves MSG-laden/greasy stuff. Rubbernecking revealed the other Italian classics on the menu such as lasagne ($14), osso buco ($18) and rabbit risotto ($16) looked just as satisfying and definitely enough of a reason to return.

Adam sits in front of the dessert cabinet

At 2:30pm on a Thursday, the Cellar Bar still attracted a constant stream of suits looking for a table – but they didn’t hassle the multitude of well-groomed waiters who clearly had the job down pat almost as well as they did their Italian accents.

Our next stop on Bourke Street hill was to good ol’ Pellegrini‘s Espresso Bar, another much-loved Melbourne institution. Even though I have not been that happy with my coffee the last few times I’ve been to this joint, I still love it if only for the atmosphere.

My latte and Adam’s short mac.

According to rumour, the Pellegrini staff charge customers according to how much they like them. For example, if you are nice/hot-looking, they will charge you less than if you were an ugly bastard/bitchy or just plain annoying. The last time I had a latte there, I got charged $3.50 (Bitch probably didn’t like Asians or thought I was fugly. I certainly was nice that day!) but this time around, I got charged $2.70. Score!

“My short macc was awful… it tasted burnt… I can make a better short macc than that dude!”
Adam is ever the coffee snob.

I eat too much.


  1. KeLlY_Siew
    February 21, 2008

    We went to Grossi for dinner quite a while ago and I wasn’t too impressed with the food. The lunch menu actually looks much more impressive! Maybe I should go back one day!

  2. aznality
    February 21, 2008

    Yeah, all compulsory subjects. It’s my final year and I’m repeating some from last year, so that explains the clashes. There are no other subjects, so I’ll have to wait for a response if they could fix anything.

    Nah I actually hope we dont resolve matters. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to know a person like that. lol.

    I like Adam’s dish better, but $22 is a rip off for that, IMO. They probably get it for $2 max.

    And the Pellegrini staff sounds prejudiced. I would never go to a cafe like that. It must be true if you were charged different prices on different occasions. It’s wrong on so many levels.

  3. ms_behvn
    February 21, 2008

    hello! its me again lol

    i kinda neglected xanga, kinda feel guilty! but i remember everyone lol! i love your ebay ideas!! might do the same with the 22 text books i got collecting dust! lol how u been!

  4. icesabre
    February 22, 2008

    Haha, my brother just started making coffee as part of his casual/part time, and he’s become a bloody snob as well bagging the coffee at all these places.

  5. aznality
    February 23, 2008

    Because the SriLakan team were too busy courting women to attend their match? lol.

  6. I_Luv_Cocacola
    February 23, 2008

    I get charged 2.20 at pellegrinis beat that na nana nana na.
    U need to wear a suit jacket to goto the main grossi joint i remember talking about this with ya when we were at flower drum a few years ago (my 21st bday)


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