Pellegrini's is legitimate old school. I'm not talking 'old school' where everything is made from salvaged timber with a penny-farthing bicycle bolted over the front door. I'm talking black and white chequered floors and red leather bar stools, silver haired men in white shirts serving at the bar and giant helpings of traditional pasta dishes with soft white bread to mop the bowl. Pellegrini's has done the same thing well for a long time and is famous for it.
The bar opens early and closes late, attracting a mixture of university students, office workers and older regulars who come for the great food at old world (read: cheap) prices. Patrons sit elbow to elbow at the bar, which although a little cramped, evokes the intimate, jovial atmosphere that characterizes the entire operation. Pellegrini's is also the ground zero of Melbourne's coffee scene.
It owned one of the first espresso machines to come to Melbourne way back then. The coffee menu is simple but consistently well made. However, it is the homemade watermelon granita that makes for a perfect pairing with the rich pasta sauces. The term institution bandied around quite a lot when it comes to describing food, but Pellegrini's is indeed an institution close to many Melburnian hearts.