HOT: Cantina della Casa, 13 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
The domination of Gertrude Street by the McConnell brothers (Andrew and Matt) continues with another establishment opening, this time a cafe/deli/providore/bottle shop called Cantina della Casa.

HOT: Cantina della Casa, 13 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

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The small shop next door to Casa Ciuccio has been given a bright white makeover with unobstrusive smatterings of Latino flavour. One wall is dominated by a wine fridge and shelved bottles of local and imported wines. Facing it is a glass counter with a tempting selection of fresh salads, cheeses and house made charcuterie.

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You can also choose to eat there and tuck into a super-sized meat or vegeatrian boccadillo (which are normally bite-sized morsels) or a freshly baked meat or vegetarian empanada or Spanish tortilla.

HOT: Cantina della Casa, 13 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

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If you are eating in my advice is to sit outside if the weather is mild – the window bench is ridiculously  narrow (the width of a dinner plate) so you have to spread your phone and handbag horizontally on the counter and there’s definitely no room to open a newspaper. I imagine it would get quite uncomfortable if you had to perch on a high stool with a stranger edged under your armpit.

I decided to try an empanada ($10) with a couscous side salad ($6) as well as a slice of tortilla ($8) (‘are you very hungry?’ asked the waiter just in case!). The empanada had a delicious flaky pastry and was amply filled with chorizo and provolone – I particularly liked the rough handmade look of it and if you’re not very hungry it could easily be shared between two with some salad.

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I don’t normally get very excited by salad but this one was a revelation – it tasted like Barbecue Shapes! I don’t know what magical seasoning they tossed through the couscous or the cashews and pistachios but the smokey/salty/spicy combination was so good that I would happily have eaten it as a meal.

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The picture above looks like a beer and apple pie but it was actually a slice of the tortilla, with large chunks of potato cemented by a fluffy egg mixture and served with a liberal ladle of creamy aioli. I had it with a glass of iced tea – it’s not on the drinks menu but if you ask nicely a staff member may be able to make one up for you. And they’ve had so many requests for iced tea that it may end up on the menu in future.

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As I’d eaten the equivalent of two lunch dishes I didn’t have room to try the sweets but the counter is currently stocking a fig and almond torta, some small Spanish-style petit fours to go with your coffee or non-Spanish brownie.

Apparently Cantina della Casa will be providing takeaway meals as soon as next week if the kitchen is comfortable with the current output, so I look forward to sampling more of their delicious, well-priced food. In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to perch myself on that size zero window bench.

Cantina della Casa, 13 Gertrude St, Fitzroy +61 3 9090 7870

Mon-Fri 9am-7pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm