Grossi Florentino is undoubtedly one of Australia’s quintessential Italian food establishments. The building stands proud and tall at the top end of Bourke Street and the restaurant offers a dining experience catering to all kinds of occasions and price points – there’s the upstairs formal restaurant, and downstairs a grill and cellar bar next door. Guy Grossi, owner and head chef, is well known on the Australian food scene, and his Bolognese (served at the Cellar Bar) has had some serious talk-about in the media.
On a personal note, this restaurant holds a special place in my family’s collective memory as my late grandfather used to dine for lunch in the upstairs restaurant with his brother on a near daily basis throughout the 1970’s. Legend has it that ‘Mr Lew and Mr Wolfe’ had their own table available for them when they came in. Before I was born, many family celebrations took place within the walls of ‘Florentino’s’.
Ok, let’s talk Spaghetti Bolognese, or as Florentino’s call it on their menu ‘Spaghetti alla Bolognese with rich meat ragu’. Here is how it looked:
The bowl hit the table and immediately I could smell some of the aromatic herbs and spices – clove, nutmeg, oregano to name a few. Seconds after the dish was served, the waiter grated fresh Parmesan on the sauce – I loved that fresh touch. The sauce appeared to have a consistency I hadn’t yet experienced before on my Bolognese eating mission – it looked glutinous and shiny.
Flavour-wise – scrumptious. The meat was wonderfully soft with a delicious blend of beef, pork and chicken. I could taste the sauce had been slowly cooked and the flavours well integrated with subtle layers poking through each bite.
As anticipated, the texture of the sauce was like no other I had tried – it was thick and smooth with an interesting almost slimy, sticky coating. At first, I found the texture unusual, and was somewhat confused not knowing whether I enjoyed it or not. It wasn’t typical for me but I quickly grew accustomed, then appreciated and finally really enjoyed how the texture complimented the bite to the pasta. This bolognese was truly unique and though there was a moment of doubt, it turned out to be quite remarkable.
Note: dishes which score 16+ are contenders for the title of Melbourne’s best Spaghetti Bolognese. All scores above 16/20 will be disclosed at the end of the year long taste testing.
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