Italian food is something very close to our hearts. We eat, cook and enjoy it regularly, therefore we know the difference between authentic, quality Italian food and the imposters. Criniti's originally made a name for themselves in Sydney and recently came knocking on Melbournes doorstep with a beautifully revamped establishment in the Italian hub of Carlton, just off Lygon St. The family friendly vibe of Criniti's restaurant is instantly apparent upon arrival; the staff are attentive and (speaking of authentic) we love the fact that they are all passionate about their Italian heritage.
The menu would make a Nonna feel comfortable but we also loved the fact that there was so much variety. Sure, all of the meals are certainly Italian influenced but they complement their range of pastas and pizzas with modernised seafood and meat options. The menu definitely caters to everybody's needs and impresses.
We could have grabbed a traditional 'Lambrusco' red but tradition quickly fell by the way side. We began our culinary experience instead with a ‘Sour Puss’ cocktail which was created from Absolut raspberry vodka, vanilla syrup, lemon, grapefruit juice with rosé fairy floss to top. A delicious balance between the sour lemon, bitter grapefruit and sweet fairy floss.
Our entree was a garlic pizza to share, or perhaps we should say, a garlic pizza to remember! To make simplistic food like this shine, everything needs to be (and was) perfect; good quality ingredients on top, an authentic proper pizza base below.
For main meals we strayed from the authentic Italian on offer to instead sample their take on Australian proteins, keen to experience the multiculturalism at our core. We ordered the lamb cutlets (because we love our lamb) which were thankfully cooked medium rare and full of flavour. We also tried the eye fillet and ribs, something you won't find on many restaurant menus in Lygon Street, but we were happy to see it here! Both with italian flavour infusions of garlic and rosemary and 'crema di fungi' respectively. Their portions too were generous which is always a tick in my book! Crispy chips and steamed vegetables were perfect accompaniments to balance out the naughty and nice.
The balance didn't last long though as we simply could not leave without trying the Chocolate fondant with caramelised fig gelato and raspberry coulis and the traditional wood fired calzone with the not-so-traditional Nutella, marshmallows and crushed nuts, served with vanilla gelato and strawberries. Our fondant was rich and decadent and oozed chocolate, exactly what we expected from a fondant. The Calzone? There's only one thing thats better than garlic and cheese on wood-fired pizza dough, and thats Nutella. Lots of it!
Overall, we came to Criniti's craving authentic Italian, but left with our bellies full of delicious modernised recipes (perhaps we need to return for that Lambrusco after all?). Highly recommended family restaurant!
Address: 198-204 Faraday St, Carlton VIC 3053
Phone: 1300 274 648
~ Snobsinthecity xoxo