Lygon Street in Melbourne is home to their Little Italy district. This means a succession of restaurants and cafes, some dating back to the early 60s, offering all manner of Italian treats. This is added to by a parade of other restaurants reflecting the city’s developing identity as a major cultural melting pot.
I kept it very classic by visiting the University Cafe, a venerable institution and home to some of the area’s best pizza, I was told.
There’s a slight sense that this part of town has grown slightly stale or perhaps isn’t seen as the home of innovation or quality. I suspect places such as SPQR with its more contemporary take on the classic Neapolitan style are seen more as the torchbearers for modern pizza dining in the city.
Still I found a lot of the businesses very busy at the late lunch hour of 3pm, with the University Cafe busy with a richly varied bunch of punters.
I was seated at a good little table just near the entrance. I was brought the typically broad menu along with a lunch specials list. I already had pizza in mind, with a capricciosa apparently a classic choice in these parts, and added the tortellini in brodo to start.
Tortellini in brodo is a real favourite and I generally order it when it appears on menus which is not as often as I’d like. This version featured lightly aromatic chicken broth but rather thick stuffed pasta that didn’t pack much punch. It was a touch disappointing.
The pizza was a good few notches better with a lightly crisp base that had good bready chew to it. The toppings were very good, too, with excellent artichokes and high quality shaved ham. I liked it a lot.
So overall, I was glad that I included a trip to Lygon Street on my itinerary as the University Cafe was full of charm and served pizza I could eat all day long. It’s a well-known spot that’s worthy of your attention for a relaxed lunch in an iconic location.
Blythe scores University Cafe
3.5/5 for food
3.5/5 for presentation
3.5/5 for service
4/5 for setting
giving an overall 14.5/20
I ate: tortellini in brodo, pizza capricciosa
I drank: beer
I wore: kinda blue shirt
Total bill: $40
Address: 257 Lygon Street, Carlton, VIC