Teacher educator and author of many teacher reference books. Amused by random ideas and loves random acts of kindness. Enjoys writing humour...seriously!Please see my Instagram: wilsonjeni
Published August 27th 2014
Intimate Cafe With Attention To Service And Quality Food
The fact that my old friend and I managed to organise a girl's date night was already reason to celebrate. On our list of possible half way locations was the predictable Lygon St, but having been to the buzzy Brunswick Street Fitzroy recently we decided to meet at the Provincial Hotel.
We almost flipped a coin to decide which direction to take as there are so many great places to eat in this street. We headed north but didn't get far before returning back to Don Vincenzo. It was quiet and homely and the tapas menu had instant appeal.
The waitresses were friendly and chatty and I took a liking to the friendly waitress who admired the shade of my lipstick. It was not the usual conversation had at a restaurant. I noticed later that she was dancing behind the bar and a customer (perhaps a regular) was dancing on the other side. Again, this was not what you might expect.
From our various conversations with the two waitresses we found out that all the food is made fresh on site. This included the desserts, which in my experience are often bought in and therefore fairly predictable.
The first thing I noticed was how cheap the Tapas were. Each dish was only $6-$9. We decided to order five dishes between us, which was more than enough, but consumed with great gusto. Every dish we had I would order again … and that's saying something for me.
Crispy potato skins with sour cream
The potato skins were literally just the skin, not like the others that are more like wedges. They were tossed in Himalayan salt, sour cream, sprinkled with chives and paprika. They were much bigger than I had expected, more than enough for a child's meal.
They taste too good to be good for you
We also ordered the vegan patties. These were a tasty combination of spiced lentils, chickpeas and served with a yummy avocado, tomato and red onion salsa.
Melt in your mouth mushroom ravioli
That bruschetta was crisp grilled sour dough with garlic Brescaola and goats cheese. Next came the mushroom ravioli with lemon and a butter sage sauce. It looked sensational and tasted even better. I would recommend it even for those who are not keen on mushrooms.
My favourite pick for the night was Moussaka topped with goat's cheese. I guess this was always going to be my favorite pick, as I love the combination of vegetables and the creamy goat's cheese. The sauce was absolutely delicious and the presentation photo worthy. It was a shame to cut into that moussaka art.
Admire before you eat it
After these generous sized tapas dishes, there was absolutely no need to try the desserts. However, when it comes to baked cheesecake or shoes, need has absolutely nothing to do with the purchase.
This was a very generous sized cheesecake. It was definitely a share dessert with enough for at least two people. I must say I was a little disappointed to see that despite the large serving and berry coulis there was no cream. It was obvious after trying one spoonful that there was absolutely no need for any additional cream. This was possibly the creamiest baked lemon cheesecake you could ever wish for. No exaggeration!
No need for cream on this baked lemon cheesecake
The waitress had recommended this cheesecake although she did say it was a bit of a toss up between this and the carrot cake. There was no decision needed in my mind. All deserts were oversized and great value for just $9.
When rereading my review I realised that I have put most emphasis on the homemade food. But there is more to Don Vincenzo than that. Beyond the taste, the food is presented exceptionally well and the service is most welcoming.
Don Vincenzo is a boutique restaurant has been in this location for 16 years. That is well before Brunswick Street became such a well-known and loved stretch of cafes and restaurants. I noticed that there is another Italian restaurant right next door and within 100m several other restaurants and cafés. This means that the competition is extremely high, and that can only be good for the customer.
On an (almost) final note I will say that I also liked the look of this place. It's cosy and interesting. There's a lot of art on the walls (sometimes for sale) and the bar is extensive. The venue has outdoor seating and is available for private functions. They can tailor a package to suit your needs.
This place has an ambience. It's intimate and unlike many of the larger, noisier, busier cafes. It was nice to have a conversation without staining to hear. To top it off, all food with a couple of glasses of wine only cost us about $50.
On your next visit to Brunswick St, don't walk past Don Vincenzo. It's a lovely intimate cafe with friendly and quality service and food.