April 20, 2012
Michael keeps a keen eye on the Gertrude St goings-on, including the construction and opening of Casa Ciuccio. After a week or so of negotiation, we set up a completely unnecessary and rather extravagant Friday lunch there with Mike and Jo.
Casa Ciuccio comes from the people behind Bar Lourinha and boasts its own coal pit. It's hardly surprising, then, that the menu's not really designed for vegos - 3 of the 13 snack-sized items are flesh free, before things get really meaty with 9 dishes from the grill or coal pit; there are four further vegetable plates as well as cheese and desserts.
We started off with cheese-stuffed figs ($5 each), which I'd spied at a neighbouring table and envied. They were fresh, sweet and fabulous.
The zucchini, eggplant and labneh ($15) similarly offered a pleasing combination of tender fresh produce and complementary curd.
The cos leaves, sweet lime and radish ($16) had a nice bittersweet crunch.
Marginally heartier were the green beans in sugo ($15).
I was not leaving without dessert(s). The wide, shallow dulce de leche cream pot ($12) allowed for a maximum sprinkling of peanut praline, which I appreciated.
The stars, though, were these buñuelos ($12), warm doughnuts studded with melting chocolate sitting atop a hazelnut sauce.
We received flawless service throughout our visit and the front room was a lovely place to pass a couple of (!) weekday hours. And while we enjoyed everything we ate, I don't think this was worth $40pp. It's clear that the veg-friendly dishes are intended to accompany the meats and they don't really pass as a meal themselves. The one lentil dish on the menu includes morcilla - that's probably a signal that I should seek my legumes and meat-free fine dining elsewhere.
15 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
veg morsels $4-16
Accessibility: From memory, I think there's a small step on entry. Tables in the front room are quite well spaced, some at standard height and some at bar height with stools (we didn't get a good look at the back room or courtyard). There's full table service. We didn't visit the toilets.