Since my first visit to D.O.C Pizza years ago the family of stores bringing simple Italian food to Melbourne, particularly to Carlton, has grown.
If I’m not after pizza my favourite D.O.C eatery is actually D.O.C Espresso, around the corner on busy Lygon Street. If Lygon Street is known as Little Italy then surely D.O.C Espresso would be Roma, the capital. All the waitstaff (and probably the kitchen staff) seem to be Italian and D.O.C Espresso is their hangout. I love the fact that I’m the foreigner there, I can’t understand a single word of my neighbours’ conversations and almost all of the clientele seem to know each other, kissing in greeting and farewell with enthusiastic ‘ciao! ciao!’s.
While ‘Espresso’ describes the coffee it could also apply to the ‘express’ element of the dining experience. Everything moves at a quick, quick, quick pace here – once you decide on your selection (breakfast, salad, charcuterie, piadina, foccacia, pasta) you order at the bar, someone brings you cutlery and before you’ve had time to scan the magazine selection a hot steaming plate of pasta is placed in front of you.
I chose the pappardelle with porcini mushroom and truffle oil in bianco ($21) and I could smell it before I could see it. It was the perfect winter meal – fat, juicy hunks of forest fungi combined with the heady earthiness of truffles and a mountain of handmade al dente pasta obviously cooked a la minute. That hunk of bread was a much welcomed addition to mop up that fragrant olive oil/garlic/parsley sauce.
I imagine that the coffee from D.O.C Espresso must be excellent (everyone around me seemed to be sipping espresso) but those that don’t drink coffee…have chocolate. Italian hot chocolate to be precise, so thick and creamy it’s basically like eating chocolate sauce straight out of the jar. It’s the perfect drink-cum-dessert for only $4.90. Next time I might have a ‘proper’ dessert as I hear their tiramisu is amazing.
There’s lots to love about D.O.C Espresso if you’re into classic Italian cuisine without the red gingham tableclothes and ‘that’s amore’ kitschiness. I love the Italian ambience, the energy and most of all the simple, glorious food that’s on offer. It’s a gem in Lygon Street.
PS As part of City of Melbourne’s Look.Stop.Shop program in July D.O.C Deli, next door to D.O.C Espresso, will be holding an interactive workshop on how to make perfect handmade pasta (like that to-die-for pappardelle) followed by a salumi and cheese tasting, with an aperitivo on arrival and glass of wine later to accompany your handmade past dinner. It’s on Monday 22 July 6.30pm; $49 per person, email firstname.lastname@example.org for bookings.
D.O.C Espresso, 326 Lygon St, Melbourne +61 3 9347 8482