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Pellegrini's - Easy to Fall in Love With


Pellegrini’s, a Melbourne icon, puts a big smile on my face. It's easy to fall in love with Pellegrini's as it exudes so much charm and nostalgia. Classico! Often misunderstood in a sea of nouveau cafes and restaurants, Pellegrini’s is unique.

It feels like ‘real’ Melbourne with its history and standing. I’ve been there a few times and love it. Where else can you go for such quality banter, home cooking and strong coffee?

I tried entering Pellegrini’s very early one morning and couldn’t get in the door. That’s right! The owner (I think it was), came and unlocked the door and showed me in! That was cool.

First the coffee. I asked for a latte (in one size glass) and was poured something with an extremely dark colour - telling me this one is as strong as steel. I love a strong coffee. I asked the barista whether this was a triple shot? “No” he said, “nothing to do with shots. It’s about the blend and the way it's made. If the shots are no good the coffee is no good – so what’s the point of shots?” You gotta love that philosophy.

I then asked whether the Pellegrini’s blend was a particularly strong blend? “Yes!” the barista said. Pellegrini’s use Vittoria coffee. I then saw the picture of Al Pacino (the Vittoria representative) on the wall. Underneath it said “We know coffee.” This was macho coffee territory. In fact I could imagine Al Pacino in Pellegrini’s knocking back a strong coffee or two and delivering a few macho quips.

Then the barista went on to show me the way Pellegrini’s coffee is made. “See this”, he said pointing to my coffee. “See the colour is dark”, he said, running his finger down the glass. “See I put not as much milk in the coffee. Less milk makes it stronger.” I had to smile as I love a creamy latte – but I had to again recognise the philosophy of Pellegrini’s. Nouveau coffee establishments may come and go but Pellegrini’s belts out it’s no nonsense strong coffee for decade after decade. Nothing flowery or cute here!

I cheekily asked about the coffee machine – whether it was the original – and of course it isn’t. “We’ve had a few over the years”, the barista said. This latest one is apparently eight years old – almost new in Pellegrini’s lifetime.

Ordering breakfast was also classic. I asked about the menu and the barista told me they do a simple breakfast and something about bacon and eggs. So I said “I’ll have the bacon and eggs then.” The barista looked at me and said, “No, something simple, we don’t do bacon and eggs!” I smiled. That’s cool. What do you suggest? He recommended a salami and cheese toasted sandwich. That was fine by me!

I loved this home cooked breakfast. It was perfecto! Really it was a salami and cheese melt. I dived in to this large piece of Italian thick bread with large slices of salami with generous amount of cheese (mozzarella?) melted all over. Simple, but sensational. With the strong coffee it was a great start to the day. Might not get a hat but loads of respect!

Plenty of regulars grace Pellegrini’s in the mornings. Some of them speak to the barista in Italian. I can only make out a few words like “bongiorno!” and “ciao”! A hilarious conversation took place between the barista and a lady customer in Italian. I kept hearing a word in English, interspersed in the conversation, which caught my attention. The barista and the owner nearby realised I must be wondering what was being said! The commotion and laughter and interaction between staff and customers that ensued was highly amusing. I doubt whether this delightful cameo would have ever taken place in a nouveau café?

Nostalgia everywhere! Love the long bar area with the iconic stools, and the mirrors along the other wall (also with iconic stools). Love the memorabilia on the shelves with celebrities posing with Pellegrini’s.

Pellegrini’s is a classic Italian espresso bar in Melbourne. Sometimes misunderstood you need to appreciate it for what it is rather than what it isn’t! They do pasta and delightful Italian treats well… I still have smile on my face! Ciao! Ciao! And Pellegrini’s really knows coffee!

Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar66 Bourke St Melbourne – Café - Food 8.5 Coffee 9 Ambience 9