Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar | Newmarket Hotel

I’ve been such a lazy potato for most of this year. So I’m glad my friend Serene has started dragging me along to dance classes. I feel sooo much better getting up and moving again!

One funny part during class are those touch-your-toes type of movements during warm up… the whole class effortlessly bends down until they’re like the letter “nnnnnnnn” from side view, legs straight and palms on floor. Me on the other hand… I’m all red-faced and straining, frustrated that I’m only capable of bending into the position of a letter “r…!!” with hands literally dangling at knee level! Sigh…

Pellegrinis Espresso Bar | Newmarket Hotel

Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar

66 Bourke St
Melbourne, VIC 3000
03 9662 1885
Pellegrinis Espresso Bar | Newmarket Hotel

Tragic flexibility issues aside, that’s how our visit to Pellegrinis Bar ties in. Serene, her friend (Namis) and I had just gone to a double class two Saturdays ago. With three hours of dance, we’d developed an enormous appetite and I wanted someplace where we could tank up like barbarians. This traditional Italian bar seemed to fit the bill. Fuelled by hunger, we power-walked there.

Pellegrinis Espresso Bar | Newmarket HotelWatermelon, Lemon & Orange Granita

It’s a really old school place… with muted fluorescent lights, aged wood shelves with stationery and old photos, high stools, counter seating and stern-faced Italian gentlemen manning from behind the long bar.

A first-timer could get quite lost here – there are no waiters and the menu is darkly gold-etched (without prices) onto a wood board hanging from the ceiling. You sort of just claim a stool for yourself, choose a dish from the board, and then speak to one of the men behind the counter to place your order. He’d then press a button on an ancient intercom and, speaking in Italian, transmit your order to the back kitchen.

Drinks-wise, they were serving granita stored inside a giant tin drum. It was sweet, balanced and refreshing… the perfect after class thirst quenchers for us.

=Pellegrinis Espresso Bar | Newmarket HotelPellegrinis Espresso Bar | Newmarket HotelRisotto primavera | Pasticcio di Lasagne
Spaghetti Bolognese

Food came pretty quickly. Simple, hearty and fuss-free Italian fare in big serves. The vegetarian risotto had nutty hints while the lasagne came rich and cheesy. My spaghetti was al dente but the bolognese sauce was quite wet at the bottom. I was so hungry that I engulfed all of it in a jiffy, even the slice of buttered bread that came with the pasta.

Pellegrinis Espresso Bar | Newmarket HotelTiramisu

We ended by sharing a serve of tiramisu, which had a lot of sponge and a strongish coffee hit. To pay, just tell the one of the guys what you had and they’ll tell you how much your share costs, it ended up being $22 per person for us.

I think people visit this place more for the old school experience and cheap prices rather than the food. What we had reminded me of stuff made by the old forgotten kitchen gods in Italy. Nothing spectacular, but filling and satisfying enough.

Pellegrinis Espresso Bar | Newmarket Hotel

I’ve decided to make this post sort of like an account of what I got up to food-wise in one weekend. For Saturday night’s dinner, I cooked Emperor steamed herbal chicken. Just rub the spices, add a bit of mushrooms and herbs, wrap it and steam for 3 hours (while playing video games) until the chicken is fall apart soft. The juice that collects at the bottom after the steaming process is delicious!

Pellegrinis Espresso Bar | Newmarket Hotel

Newmarket Hotel

34 Inkerman St
St Kilda, VIC 3182
03 9537 1777
newmarketstkilda.com.au

On Sunday, I lunched here with Fakegf as part of Melbourne Food & Wine Festival’s Winter Roast Collection. What intrigued us into visiting Newmarket was the Cal-Mex style buffalo roast menu they’re offering, served in three courses at $55.

Pellegrinis Espresso Bar | Newmarket HotelPrawn & mushroom fideus
Wood fire roasted, pasilla rubbed buffalo, cooked over fragrant Mallee oak with quince aioli, chickpeas and cavelo nero

Course one was a delightfully unusual prawn and mushroom fideus, which tasted like an earthy seafood pasta. Then came the blushingly pink roast buffalo, which surprisingly was not quite as tender as we were hoping it would be… (read: it was tough as fuck). But the dish had a nice Mexican taste with gentle, smoked oak flavours in the buffalo’s fat.

Industrial-strength textures aside, I actually did not mind it. In fact, I applied soothing balm by rationalising that “it’s buffalo lah, buffalo works very hard”.

Pellegrinis Espresso Bar | Newmarket HotelBravas potatoes
Chocolate and dulche de leche tart w Seville oranges & stout ice cream

However, the highlight of that meal were these incredibly moreish (thrice cooked?) bravas potatoes that came with the buffalo. The spicy Southern (Chipotle?) sauce over it was absolutely stunning and I nearly ate through the whole bowl, with Fakegf picking at only a handful of pieces.

Fakegf did not really eat much of the buffalo either, she got full quickly and I ended up power-chewing through that mountain of meat on my own till I nearly had lock jaw. I had to stifle an involuntary “Mooooo!” as we left Newmarket Hotel. With all that bovidae in me, I was ready to tackle the week to come.

I’d previously visited this place with with cousin trouble and geek hubby, you can check out the massive spread of South American dishes we had here.