It is a very fussy diner that says a great Italian joint alludes them in their area of Melbourne. I have my specifics though.
For one, I want hand made. For two, I want affordable. And for three I want some ambience and service differential. That is much easier said than done.
A vibe can exist before you’ve even tried a place. I’ve walked past St Domenico and have noticed people sipping red wine in the sun in early autumn and thought “this place is worth a try”. That vibe is extremely important.
Catherine and I are seated at a table for two with a touch of space to the table next door. It is tight but atmospheric, clean and bright. There is already a happy table of four next door and we glance at what they’ve ordered as our order is taken.
They have great looking lasagne and cannelloni amongst pizza and we are instantly talking about the next time we’ll try this place! We have ordered pizza and are staying on this path without any diversion.
The pizza is great – both bases are well cooked under intense oven heat, with dough that suggests experience, with some blackening on the crust that is subtle enough to be additional good flavour. The San Gennaro (Napoletana) has particularly generous anchovies and olives scattered through the fior di latte cheese. It holds its shape and has great flavour, along with the simplicity I love in proper restrained Italian pizza. Equally the San Domenico is restrained but you can tell from the time the pizza hits the table that there is a touch of truffle lifting the ham and mushrooms beyond the (still delicious) norm. It is a smart pizza.
I have continued to be impressed by the thought being put into new venues opening in Richmond. With such heavy competition you need to have focus and purpose, and St Domenico has those characteristics, along with a certain vibrancy, and plenty of food worth coming back for.