+39 is my favourite pizza joint in Melbourne. It is also probably a favourite for many others as it has been voted The Best Pizzeria Of The Year 2010 in The Age Cheap Eats. It also has an interesting name – every time I went I wondered what it meant and recently I found out – it’s Italy’s international phone code. How very smart.
+39 is located at 362 Lt Bourke St, Melbourne – between Queen St and Elizabeth St. It might not seem like the busiest area of the CBD, but boy does this restaurant fill up quickly! You’ll most likely be disappointed if you don’t make a booking, especially if you have a larger group of people.
Upon entering the restaurant during our most recent visit, we were greeted by a friendly waiter who quickly took us to our table and gave us menus. I felt bad that we arrived slightly later than our booked time as the restaurant was completely full and there were people lining up at the door. Be prepared to squeeze between chairs when you’re maneuvering around and unintentionally eavesdropping though due to the tight seating arrangements.
The interior of the place is simply decorated and looks slightly factory like with the protruding steel beams and rough paint job on the walls. However, the huge Nutella jars and various imported Italian drinks lining the walls have always fascinated me. One day I will buy one of those Nutellas to decorate my own kitchen (it will probably take me 5 years to consume its contents though). They also have a big cheese and cured meats collection that are displayed with the antipasto below their counter.
Since we loved their antipasto dish last time we visited, Y and I thought we’d try the same thing again this time (they change their antipasto mix based on season). The Antipasto Della Casa ($25) comes with 6 small dishes of antipasto and bread – this time it consisted of mushrooms, pickled artichokes, stuffed eggplant, lamb, baby octopus and some sort of aged cheese (sorry I’m not a cheese expert). Personally I liked the eggplant and squid the best, mushrooms were really nice as well but the lamb was slightly overcooked and a bit bland. I highly recommend this dish as it gives you a good variety of nibbles to go along with one of their famous pizzas. It’s also a great way to share food with your companions as they come in individual dishes and is elevated for easier reach.
The wooden serving board for the antipasto is branded with their own +39 logo. If you order this dish, have a look for yourself, I thought it was quite cool.
Next up was our lovely pizza – Salciccia ($25), the topping includes tomato, mozzarella, Italian sausage, Porcini mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Very tasty as expected. One reason for the deliciousness of their pizzas is their thin crust pizza base – not too thin to break and get soggy but just the right thickness to have a nice crunch. It totally compliments the fresh and juicy ingredients on top. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
T’s pizza (Gratinata – $18) was vegetarian and just as nice as ours. Its topping included mozzarella, roasted eggplants, cherry tomatoes, bread crumbs and olive oil. The mozzarella cheese topping had a nutty, aged and refined taste which also added to the quality of both pizzas. I still prefer my pizzas with a little bit of meat though.
T also ordered Roman Chips as a side ($8) which I loved. It was topped with a lot of fresh and delicious parmesan cheese (which I picked off every time T didn’t notice). The chips themselves were sliced thinly then fried until crunchy – it’s like a luxurious version of packet chips from the supermarkets.
This time, we were actually able to fit in some dessert (the customers on the next table recommended their tiramisu ($12). According to the +39 menu, their tiramisu is the “Best in Melbourne” so we decided to try it out. It was indeed very nice – sweet and moist with a burst of coffee flavour. However, it lacked a bit of alcohol and serving size wasn’t that big. In my opinion, although still fantastic, “Best in Melbourne” is debatable as I would probably recommend the tiramisu at Provincial Hotel more.
Another friend ordered the Calzoncino Di Nutella ($12) – mini folded Nutella pizza & vanilla ice cream. Although I didn’t try any, anyone can guess what it tastes like – total Nutella heaven. When he placed his spoon (the waiter forgot to give him a knife so he was digging at it with the ice cream spoon) into the pizza, Nutella immediately oozed out. It was a total mess but a sweet one. Perhaps a bit sweet for me but for anyone who loves Nutella, this is a must get.
I almost forgot to mention that almost the whole table ordered blood orange granitas ($4.50)(sorry no photo because we were all too thirsty). I loved this drink because of its acidic, sour, blood orange tasty goodness, and it was thirst quenching too.
All up, it was around $30 per person – not bad for the fantastic food and lovely service we received. A definite must try for those of you who haven’t been.
Phone: (03) 9642 0440
362 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne CBD