It was a special birthday treat for Benny – dinner at Il Melograno. A favourite spot for brunch, it serves up amazing food worthy of a Sicilian nonna. And Il Melograno (“the pomegranate tree”) has the added attraction of house-made gelato.
Opposite the Westgarth Cinema, Il Melograno is open from breakfast right through to late night. After 3pm the evening menu kicks in, with a range of “small bites” plus some more substantial dishes.
The inside décor is rather industrial – lots of polished concrete and retro incandescent light globes. But it had been an absolutely glorious day, and the last bit of sunshine on the outside tables was very inviting.
It was difficult to choose between the menu offerings, but after a long discussion with our friendly waiter, we selected three of the share plates between the two of us.
First up was Parmigiana di Melanzane – eggplant parmigiana with tomato and melted buffalo mozzarella. Highly recommended by our waiter, this was definitely the star dish of the meal. Big bold flavours, and according to our waiter, just like the recipe his mother makes. Where does his mother live? Sicily.
Our second dish, Falso Magro Polpettone – baked ground beef meat ball filled with mortadella, Fontina cheese and Iranian pistachios – was very good.
As a contrast, for our third dish we selected one of the salads: Insalata con Noci e Gorgonzola – red cabbage salad with Gorgonzola cheese, roquette and walnuts. The Gorgonzola was a great counterpoint to the bitterness of the cabbage and the Roquette.
For dessert, Benny wanted the brioche con gelato. Now we know that this is normally a breakfast dish (gelato for breakfast? A Sicilian summer favourite!), but it was his birthday and he particularly likes the brioche from Il Melograno. The brioche is split and filled with three flavours of gelato – traditionally strawberry, lemon and pistachio, but you can pick whatever you want. It’s a substantial serve – we normally share one between the two of us.
Il Melograno makes all its gelato in-house fresh each day, using natural ingredients. There are around a dozen regular flavours, including both dairy and non-dairy (sorbetti) options plus some specials. The gelato is stored in lidded pozzetti to retain freshness.
And Il Melograno’s gelato can be served in many different ways – not just in cups or cones, but also frappés (milkshakes), iced coffee, affogato, iced or hot chocolate, granitas and even cocktails.
Benny sampled several flavours before making his final selection. Not an easy task to pick three complementary flavours. He worked through chocolate and rosemary, coconut, and Turkish hazelnut, before settling on Dutch chocolate, orange infused ricotta (my favourite), and salted macadamia. Individually each was excellent, and as a combination they were even better.
In truth, I think the brioche con gelato works better for breakfast or brunch. After a big meal just a scoop or two of gelato is quite enough for me. And Il Melograno has truly excellent gelato.
76 High Street
Northcote Vic 3070
T: (03) 9482 2092