How do you choose a cafe in Melbourne? It’s a tough one. Hearsay? Reviews? Online menu? Personally I think a good place to start is with anything that has the work Bakery or Deli in the title. To me, these words signify hearty whole foods.
Alimentari on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy is a Deli. The front counter is blossoming with alluring displays of paninis, sandwiches, wraps, piadinas as well as various deli items such as olives, salads and dolmades. Dark wood shelves are packed with pantry style items for sale including mueslis, preserves biscotti.
Walk in the corner door and you are confronted with a rustic space, dark wooden tables and a rather confined dining space, luckly there is a larger dining room out the back with a large share table, and there are tables on the street. The specials of the day are written up on chalkboards in each dining space.
The menu is available online, although there were variations to the online and in cafe versions. Selections for lunch included: antipasto selections, soups, paninis, piadinas, sandwiches, wraps, small plates and larger plates. There is also a large variety of drinks on offer, including an extensive wine menu as well as italian coffee. I was a little disappointed to discover that all the sandwiches and wraps are pre-made in the morning, so your preference might not be there by the time you order. Also please note that most of the sandwiches DO include mayonnaise (not listed on the menu).
Dispite my temptation to order the special of Prosciutto, Gorgonzola and Figs, I decided on the Salami Piadina with olives, bocconcini and roquette ($10.5). The piadina bread itself was beautifully toasted, buttery like pastry but crunchy. I was a little disappointed with a scarcity of fillings (especially since these products are a deli’s speciality). My piadina also continually dripped while I was eating it, making a puddle of juice on my plate and turning the second half of my lunch soggy.
My fellow diner chose the special of Peppers and Tomato Soup with sour cream and a crouton ($9.5). The dish was served with generous amounts of bread and butter. I have to admit a level of food envy here, because the soup smelt and looked delicious when it was brought to the table. The dark rich red colour matched the rich and spicy flavour of the soup, nicely broken up with the fresh creamy texture of sour cream.
The other diner chose the Roast Beef on English High Top with caramelised onion jam, chutney, mustard, roquette and cheddar ($10.5). This sandwich was huge, completely stuffed with layer upon layer of roast beef and handfuls of roquette crammed between two very thick slices of white bread. The ingredients all were of excellent standard though there were a lot of preserves used.
All in all, the staff were polite and helpful, though if you have any dietary requirements, double and triple check with different staff members as I was misinformed several times. This was a pleasant place for lunch, where you felt welcome. A place where one could while away the afternoon over a bowl of olives.
251 Brunswick St Fitzroy