I headed there straight from work and arrived before Steve did. It was 7:30pm and the outside seating for the Grill and Cellar Bar was busy reminiscent of the trattorias at the Campo Di Fiori or Piazza Navona in Rome.
Guy Grossi was at the door, greeting his guests and showing the way upstairs. I was shown to a table in the main dining room with the beautiful paintings and was given a stool for my handbag and made to feel at home with something to read and something to drink whilst I waited for my date. The sommelier actually said, "Let me get you something to browse through as it's nice to have something to look at whilst waiting..." I guess looking at Facebook on my mobile phone wasn't the right thing to in this establishment.
This is a destination dining place. One for an occasion when you want pomp and circumstance and to be made a fuss of. The white tablecloths and the utterly devoted service of the team here make it an occasion.
YELLOWFIN TUNA, Jamon Iberico, Charred Leek, Fennel and Red Onion Carpione, Toasted Brioche was or our opener and it did the job beautifully. A big square slab of pink tuna accompanied by a jewel like sliver of salty jamon Iberico. Who would have thought that few minute brioche crumbs could add so much texture and a touch of toastiness! This was a generous portion given that we only had half each and felt that a half portion was a full one!
DUCK AND PORCINI TORTELLINI, Candied Pear
POTATO AND LEEK stuffed pasta parcel, Spanish truffle, sweet shallot, shaved Spanish black truffle
The duck and porcini tortellini - so classic, sterling standard classic. Beautiful thin pasta encasing a delicious meat filling and then the sweetness of pear to partner the rich duck. Duck always need a fruit accompaniment to cut through it and why not pear?
I had high hopes for the second pasta dish as it was a special and we paid the supplement for the heady, fragrant black truffle. The pasta tasted good but it wasn't mindblowingly amazing and so I felt a bit undersold.
SUCKLING PIG, Apricot, Native Tasmanian Pepper, Apple Cider, Pumpkin
Our main courses were delicious. The suckling pig came the thinnest piece of delicate crackling that snapped like brandy snap and the rich, fatty meat complimented by a sharper, fruity note of apricot and apple cider. It was also a large plate of food and very rich.
Steve's roasted partridge was amazing! Not as rich as the suckling pig, it was fresh and tasty.
LEMON, LIME AND BITTERS, Lemon Pannacotta, Lime Foam, Dulce De Leche, Pine Nut Streusel, Marshmallow, Peppermint Ice Cream
We did make dessert choices though. The chocolate souffle was as light as a fairy; cloud like and kissed by cocoa. The sauce was delicious as was the ice cream. For a non chocolate lover to like this, well a chocolate lover would be in chocolate heaven.
Steve had the unusual lemon, lime and bitters play on the Aussie drink and served in a glass. Interesting and lighter than the chocolate it went down well.
The maitre d' there actually recognised Steve and I as diners from the Press Club so it was lovely to see a familiar face and he was kind enough to show us around and to welcome us. We were so incredibly well looked after but we were not the exception. Looking around, every table was well looked after from the family with two well behaved children to the group that wanted to order the degustation but make numerous changes.
From the beginning to the last mouthful of a petit fours and also our take home delights of a Grossi pasta sauce and pasta, we had an enjoyable and memorable dinner. Grossi Florentino Upstairs, is a Melbourne occasion dining destination and it deserves that sort of respect in its clientele.
The food, the ambience, the service; it's all about the traditions of dining out and I feel strongly that there is a place for this in Melbourne's dining scene. Sometimes I want to don a frock and get dressed up for dinner and not be surrounded by the shorts and t shirts of the casual diner. Sometimes I want to be treated like a discerning client and my presence valued as opposed to another person coming through the door along with many others. And at Grossi Florentino, that's what it's all about.