This is a story of a working collaboration between two women that spans more than a quarter of a century. Together, they are Maria’s Trattoria. One works front of house and the other back of house. They have been providing hearty Italian meals and a warm welcome to Melburnians for more than 25 years. This is a place where locals are greeted by name, and photos of local families adorn the wall. It is a place that is as down to earth as its patrons. If you don’t have an Italian grandmother, and wish you did, go and dine at Maria’s.
Maria’s Trattoria is the type of place that you tend to be shown, rather than stumble across. When I first left home, my hip artist auntie took me there. I think she figured that if artists could afford to eat there, so could students! She knew that whether you wander in with paint on your clothes or a suit, or by yourself, you would experience the true meaning of hospitality. You will always be greeted with a genuine smile. Perhaps one of the ingredients to happiness is that these women have learned the secret of balancing work and life in an industry notorious for its long hours. They close on weekends. And they mix work and family. Don’t sit at the table nearest the kitchen – that’s reserved for family members!
Meals are generous in size, and so Maria’s Trattoria is a favourite with ravenous cycling groups, as well as locals. No money has been spent on updating the décor – there are still lino floors and 1980’s style brown chairs – but this means prices have not been inflated to pay off an expensive fitout. Pasta dishes are under $18. An entrée size is all you will need unless you are very hungry. My favourite dishes include the sardines, and the garfish. These are done in a traditional Mediterranean way. Lightly pan-fried, just add lemon. Absolutely perfect! Hubby loves the chicken romano. With a glass of wine (also generously served), we spend about $50 for dinner.
Maria’s Trattoria is open for lunch (from midday) and dinner (until 10pm) on weekdays. There is no need to book to reserve a table unless you are a big group. Maria’s is located in Peel Street, North Melbourne. It is across the road from Victoria Market (a few doors down in Peel Street). Stops for trams numbers 55 and 57 are very close by.