We woke late to rather bleak daylight, a weak almost noon sun struggling to break through the grey and with no hope of warming up the apartment. "What a delightful blue Sunday", commented KB half mockingly. But she was right, delightful enough motivation for us to attempt an escape from the chill with a leisurely walk somewhere out-of-doors. We ended up doing the entire stretch of nearby eclectic Brunswick Street (check out the link for a very cool virtual stroll along both sides of Brunswick Street), once known for its bohemian mix of locals and layabouts but nowadays somewhat redefined by the weekend jostling of late model European sedans as their very plebeian, nouveau rich middle-class owners explore the many restaurants on offer. As it was then almost 2, we were rather keen on somewhere for a late lunch as well.
Attracted by the menu on its window we walked through the dark doorway of Scarpetta, a cute little Italian bar bistro. Inside we hesitated, we were the only customers! But it was too late, the Manager who was interupted at the bar with his ledgers looked up, grinned broadly and motioned for us to grab seats, "For two this afternoon?" Further in was a see-through pass to the kitchen where the chef and one other were looking out questioningly at us. No way we were backing out now, so we took the proferred menus and tried to relax. And we were glad we did. The Manager had time on his hands to be chatty and charming, and quickly made us feel at ease despite our lonesome visit during the late afternoon doldrums. KB's Orechiette with prawns, calamari, scallops, fish and spinach ($26) was brimming with fresh seafood and a fine clean olive oil version of marinara pasta, sufficiently garlicky and with plenty of just warmed-through fresh tasting diced tomato and basil. My Fish of the Day ($29) was rather surprisingly, Coral Trout, lightly flour-dusted fillets competently sauteed and served over wilted spinach, creamed mash and a very tasty ratatouille of eggplant, zucchini, red peppers and onion. A recommended glass ($8) of local Diamond Valley 'Blue Label' Pinot Noir complemented the oiled tomatoey flavours of the meal perfectly, and the long black coffee ($3.50) to finish was decent as well. We would be keen to return at a more regular and busier time to explore Scarpetta's pizza menu and test out its less 'personalised' service.
A tasty dish of simply pan fried Coral Trout fillets
Food: 3.5 spots - Simple Italian fare done competently; good list of wines by the glass.
Service: 3.5 spots - [Only the Manager was there on our visit].
Value: 3.5 spots - Quite regular bistro prices with fair sized dishes.
R-Factor: 3.5 spots - Place to consider if feeling like Mediterranean/pizza/pasta in an area not so known for Italian eateries.
Spot Score: 14/20
257 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, VIC.