Melbourne is one of the most vegan-friendly capital cities in Australia that’s easy to navigate by car. Italian cooking has also punctuated the city’s expansive multicultural food scene, beginning as early as the 1950’s when the city was a newfound home to Italian immigrants. Italian restaurants and pizzerias started to congregate along Melbourne’s famous Lygon Street in Carlton, and are now branching out around the city. From coffee to pizza, pasta and antipasti, Melbourne wouldn’t be the same without Italian food and traditions. Here’s a list of where to find the best vegan Italian food around town. All you need is a car, a tank of fuel and an empty belly that needs to be filled.
Shop 225 in Pascoe Vale South
Exploring Melbourne’s inner city suburbs by car will lead you to a mandatory trip to Shop 225. When it comes to Italian food, food and love are inseparable, particularly here.
From the exemplary welcome and service, to the generous amounts of vegan options guests will eat here, the love is abound. Shop 225 is one of Melbourne’s newest Italian locales, and all food here is made from scratch. Business partners Lorenzo Tron and Roberto Davoli ensure that both the food and atmosphere are genuine, welcoming and warm. It all started when Lorenzo’s vegan mother visited Melbourne from home in the northeast of Italy. Apparently, Lorenzo and his mum were feeling ‘unsatisfied’ when dining at various plant-based venues around town. Lorenzo decided to open Shop 225 with Roberto. Their menu features delectable fire-baked pizzas where 11 of their 13 choices can be veganised. Pastas, salads and desserts also transform an order of pizza into a fully-satisfying meal. It’s recommended to order a Verde pizza topped with lightly baked eggplant, pesto and melting plump balls of vegan fior di latte cheese. Just don’t leave without a rich dessert of Calzone Nutella, filled with Shop 225’s own house-made Nutella-style vegan chocolate spread with a side-scoop of homemade strawberry gelato and a piping soy latte. There’s plenty of street parking available nearby.
225 Melville Road, Pascoe Vale South 3044 Victoria. Open for lunch and dinner.
La Camera in Southbank
A drive to La Camera in the heart of Southbank, Melbourne’s CBD, translates to ‘the room’ but the space in which La Camera operates seems more homely than what ‘the room’ implies. Beautiful black and white family photos, enlarged onto canvases, hang along the walls and the staff is friendly, warm and genuine.
La Camera is an Italian culinary destination and simplicity means more here. Choose from the vegan section to La Camera’s menu such as antipasti of grilled melanzane (eggplant) and peperoni (capsicum) with bruschetta as a starter, or choose which antipasti you desire. For the main, try the insalata vegana, a large bowl of quinoa salad with mint, parsley, crunchy walnuts, cranberries and currants, all tossed in a pomegranate dressing. Serve alongside a simple and light bowl of spaghetti carretiera – garlic, chilli oil, freshly torn basil, tomatoes and olive oil. Park the car at one of many carparks in Melbourne’s CBD (at a nominal fee). Choose multilevel parking on Flinders Street then take a sunny stroll along the historic Princes Bridge to reach the Southbank precinct. A table near the windows is recommended for stunning views of Melbourne’s city skyline.
Shop MR2 Mid-Level East End, Southgate, Southbank Victoria 3006. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Paesano in Wantirna South or Hampton Park
Take a longer drive out to Melbourne’s east for the food at Paesano – a restaurant group that’s achieved success with their ‘real Italian’ traditional family recipes.
Paesano founder Frank Capuzzi’s ‘nonna’ travelled to Melbourne – from Abruzzo, Italy – with the secrets of her family’s homely cooking. Italian cuisine harnesses the benefits of cooking with the freshest ingredients, particularly vegetables and legumes, which seems to have influenced Paesano Restaurant’s decision to introduce a vegan section to its menu. Risottos and pasta dishes are customary options, yet a dish as simple and hearty as Paesano’s eggplant caponata is a real treat to enjoy. You can find Paesano in Melbourne’s east in Wantirna at Westfield Knox Ozone and at Hampton Park Shopping Centre. Extensive parking is available at both sites.
Shop 42, Hampton Park Shopping Centre, 166 Somerville Road, Hampton Park 3976 Victoria
Westfield Knox Ozone, 425 Burwood Highway, Wantirna South 3152 Victoria
Both locations re open for brunch, lunch and dinner.
If you’re still hungry, then extend your vegan Italian food drive around Melbourne with these destinations:
Maccaroni Osteria Italiana for its separate vegan menu for all-week dinners and weekend lunches
201 Queens Parade, Fitzroy North 3068 Victoria
Smith & Daughters for its all-vegan menu (that’s recently gone all-Italian) for lunch and dinner
175 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy 3065 Victoria
Red Sparrow Pizza for its plant-based, ethical pizzeria pizzas for all-week dinners and Saturday lunch
406 Smith Street, Collingwood 3066 Victoria