Cue the theme music to The God Father.
Chef Guy Grossi’s Florentino Restaurant has such a good reputation in Melbourne and right across the rest of Australia, and well deserving it is too. The main restaurant is upstairs from the Florentino Grill and Spaghetti Cellar Bar on the ground floor. The décor in the Grill is classic dark wood and mirrors with lighting that creates a wonderfully warm Italian mood. Yes I said Italian because on the walls, the old photos of the 1930’s Florentino café and staff in Italy, along with the liveried waiters wearing aprons and the smell of garlic and herbs transports you there. Mama Mia! Looking around Florentino Grill, I almost expected to see the cast of Wise Guys or the God Father 1, 2 & 3. And believe me, there were a few people enjoying the food who looked like they could have auditioned for a part in a mob movie. (I mean no disrespect.)
We felt a bit out of place when we walked in but the staff was really friendly and did every thing they could to make us feel at home. The table was immaculately set with linen so starched I was scared I might cut myself on the serviette. No sooner had we sat down when an oil, salt and bread board appeared, along with fresh baked bread sticks. A big bottle of ice cold Italian mineral water soon followed, and then we were ready to order. Man that bread and bread sticks dipped in oil and salt, washed down with the sparkling mineral water was so good, I would have been happy with that for lunch, but I think that would have been bad form and might have gotten me rubbed out.
It was a hard choice to make, but we settled on the whole fish and scallops. It was everything you would expect from such a classy restaurant. The seafood was perfectly cooked and subtly seasoned. To tell the truth, I was expecting heavy on the garlic and herbs to push the Italian theme, but the fish was the hero flavour. The chef displayed total respect for the produce. And oh boy it was good. Badda boom badda bing.
The place was a buzz of conversations and the tables all go quiet when their food arrives. I watched as other patrons slurped up their pasta and cut into their scaloppini with a look of total ecstasy on their faces. There was laughter and joy in the room. This is what eating out is about. Eating great food cooked just right, fellowship of good friends and loved ones, and having fun. We were having a great time. That’s what this place does, it makes people happy and it was infectious. We both had smiles ear to ear.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to meet Chef Guy Grossi this time around, maybe next time. He has created something special with his Florentino restaurant and we’re looking forward to discovering other amazing dishes and being carried away by the charming atmosphere when we hit Melbourne for another fantastic Food Trek. What a great experience.