Some Melburnians believe that the Italian restaurants in Lygon Street are best left for the tourists. I am not one of them. Whilst there is an entire strip I avoid (where the waiters are not waiting but on the pavement approaching passersby), there is still some hearty authentic Italian food to be had in Lygon Street. So, when I emerge from Cinema Nova, I make a bee line for Il Cantuccio. The lighting inside is wonderful (especially if you’ve just emerged from a dark cinema). I usually tuck into an entrée size spaghetti vongole. I’ve also enjoyed the squid ink (black) linguine. I like to sit inside, and look up at the photos of Kojak (you can ask the owner about how Kojak came to dinner), but there are also tables outside on the pavement.
The servings at Il Cantuccio are generous. The staff are very friendly, and accommodating of special dietary requirements. Prices are reasonable. Meat and fish dishes are just under $30. Main size pasta and rice dishes are just under $20: I find the entrée size dishes, which are about $16, are large enough for me. Meals can take up to 45 minutes to arrive and so if you are time pressured, this is not going to be for you. Il Cantuccio is open from 6pm until 10pm Tuesday – Thursday, from 6pm until 11pm on Friday and Saturday, and from 5.30pm until 10.30pm on Sunday. There is no need to make a booking unless you have a large group.