Campari House

Melbourne, VIC

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Words BY CHRIS SWAN
Photography by Jess Prescott

Along the red brick-lined Hardware Lane, between Bourke and Little Bourke Street, is where you’ll find Campari House. Its red awnings shine like a beacon for those looking for a meal or just a few casual drinks.

Out front, the red shade cloth awning and white picket fence entices patrons into a modest dining area. There’s a multitude of outdoor tables, creating an Italian style of dining using one of Melbourne’s famous laneways to its advantage. The simplistic interior with jazz music playing gives the feeling of an old pub bistro.

Fresh Italian ingredients are used to craft a varied menu catering to different tastes and dietary requirements. There’s something here for everybody.

It’s a big year for Campari House. In addition to celebrating their 50th anniversary, they’re part of the drinks and dining program for this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival – even using their adaptable space to host a few performances. Their generous share plates are perfect for before or after a show.

A highlight is the Campari Board, a share plate consisting of a bit of everything from the entree menu, while their pizzas remain a classic for those wanting an easy meal.

Their classic three cheese margherita pizza has a soft base that lets the tomatoes lead the charge with their rich flavour. It’s a classic done right, perfect for a light meal or those looking to share.

If it’s a more substantial meal that you’re looking for, Campari House offers a considerable amount of Italian staples. The linguine marinara is served with king prawns, calamari, mussels, clams and scallops. Tossed with a hint of garlic and offering a nice chilli after-taste, the lingering flavour of the white wine reduction it’s cooked in enhances the hearty portions of seafood served on a bed of tender pasta.

The grilled spring lamb loin is cooked to order and served with vine-ripened tomatoes and butternut puree on a bed of cooked spinach. It’s a generous cut of meat cooked to perfection, with a soft crunch on the outside that gives way to succulent lamb with a rich flavour. The sweetness of the butternut and tomatoes works well with the meat to create a fantastic combination.

With local beers on tap, along with a large selection of local wines, Campari House is ideal for anybody seeking traditional Italian cuisine in a classic Melbourne setting.