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Giro D'Italia Upstairs restaurant launches "La Dolce Vita Romana"

Some of the best Italian food in Melbourne is being served by Domenico De Marco (Dom) is at Giro D'Italia restaurant and we were invited to the exciting launch of Giro D'Italia Upstairs featuring Roman food with "La Dolce Vita Romana". 

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Classic setting overlooking Rathdowne street.

An exciting concept, Giro D'Italia is offering diners value for money dining upstairs in the charming bluestone building that is Giro D'Italia, with a theme of Italian cities. This is about Italian food with heart, Dom all the while engaging customers when he's not in the kitchen. Each dish has plenty of effort and care, with strokes of brilliance. It's all designed for the customer. As Dom remarked to me, "So many chefs work for the art, not the heart." While the food is beautifully presented, it's not driven by whether it's "instagrammable" but driven by authenticity, flair, nuances, big flavours and textures.

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Dom is full of energy and flair bringing exciting offerings like Giro D'Italia Upstairs to Melbourne, here looking lovingly at Guanciale pork cheek.

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Menu is simple but plenty of technique behind the "simple".

The bike theme abounds at Giro D'Italia Upstairs in the same way as the restaurant below, with a bike mounted on the wall. This is about a journey, like the famous bike race, taking you around Italy.

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Prosecco on arrival.

Every 3 months there will be a theme change to reflect on Italian cities, their food and culture. The concept has kicked off in August with the theme of Rome, available through to October. For only $30 per person diners can book a table and be treated to antipasto with a touch of Rome and share 2 pastas (bottomless so you won't go hungry!) served in a copper pot (extra pasta $10 per person).

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For the Antipasto Romano, Dom makes his own Mortadella, and you can tell the freshness and fullness of flavour. Also featured is the marinated artichoke served in a glass jar, pizza bianca, ricotta with sun dried tomato and oregano. The Antipasto Romano was a highlight in itself and I was already satiated. Each element hit the high notes.

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Dom opens the jar to reveal the marinated artichoke.

It's top notch and relaxed Italian dining designed to share, with dessert and drinks an extra charge. 

Giro D'Italia Upstairs complements the fabulous downstairs Giro D'Italia restaurant experience, with Dom telling us they are separate restaurants (some staff assigned just to the upstairs) but use the same kitchen. The entrance to the Upstairs restaurant is also seperate (just around the corner from the downstairs restaurant).

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Wines on tap by Font Fine Wine are brilliant, including the Heathcote Shiraz we savoured (you could also order Roman beers and wines from Rome).

The launch night of Giro D'Italia Upstairs was buzzing with those who appreciate authentic Italian cuisine. Dom in this concept aims to keep it simple, but as he says, "Behind the simple is loads of technique." Dom also says "simple Italian" is same philosophy as fine dining - to surprise people with your offering. And that he did.

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For example Carbonara - surprise people with a dish that involves only a few ingredients. The Rigatoni Alla Carbonara was the best carbonara of my life (no exaggeration). I didn't expect this fresh al dente pasta with free range eggs cooked at 82 degrees and water at 37 degrees - so exacting. The big flavour of the sauce and the intense flavour of the Guanciale pork cheek was a showstopper. Forget your Carbonara's that are overly creamy with cheap cuts of ham, Dom grabs your attention with a creamy Carbonara that doesn't include cream as such. It's all in the technique.

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Dom told us he has elected to use short pasta to make it easier to share, hence no spaghetti with the carbonara but we like it this way. And we confess we asked for more of this dish, rich but irresistible.

Bookings are available for Wed-Sun sittings but you need to book on that week's Monday from 9am to noon to grab your sitting. Giro D'Italia also doubles as a popular upstairs function space so there are times during each week when the space is devoted to functions.

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Conchiglie All’ Amatriciana came with a touch of heat, featuring the pork cheek, pecorino and the tomato based sauce. The shape of the pasta holds the sauce well. A dish derived from the town of Amatrice near Rome, with Dom serving up a fabulous interpretation.

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Gnocchi di Semonlina Alla Romana was another surprise dish with the use of semolina. Texture was amazing with the soft silky semolina a change up from a heavier potato gnocchi we often see. Perfect with a delicious tomato based sauce on top.

We shared the Tiramisu, one of the best in Melbourne, for only $14 extra, which is great value.

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The room itself is a highlight, in a quintessential Carlton bluestone classic building, and has been upgraded with tasteful fittings and decor (we note Dom used to sleep up here but no more).

We highly recommend the La Dolce Vita Romana experience of Giro D'Italia Upstairs. Book your table with a group of friends. Tables are available for 90 minutes with 6pm and 7.30pm sitting Wed-Sun although we may have creeped over that at the launch night.

Choice of cities to be featured is not ad hoc but depends on seasons and seasonal produce, for example in summer Dom will tend towards northern cities.

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Attractive space in Carlton North. Book your table.

Great value for such outstanding quality and a celebration of Roman cuisine.