After splurging so much on all these fabulous meals within the first few days of this trip to Melbourne, I thought it was time for a serious cheap eat. Papa Gino’s on Lygon Street is a straightforward restaurant at the heart of this Italian hub. The food and service is simple, quick and cheap and is popular with large groups, families and students.

Papa Gino's Lygon Street Carlton -

Zen and I start with the cold platter ($15.50) – a large plate with plentiful Provolone cheese, olives, prosciutto, and other cured meats. Then move onto a large seafood marinara pizza ($19) which is enormous and just about the same size as our table!
The pizza topping consists of the standard tomato, mozzarella cheese, shrimps, smoked mussels, baby clams, anchovies and garlic. It is substantial but really lacks any pizzazz. The base however has a really nice bite to it and the serving size ticks the value for money box.

Papa Gino's Lygon Street Carlton - cold platter, provolone cheese, proscuitto, olives, pickles and other cured meats

On the side, the small garden salad ($4.50) is as described. It’s a basic combination of lettuce, a few slices of tomato and some olives.

Papa Gino's Lygon Street Carlton -  large marinara pizza - tomato, mozzarella cheese, prawns, smoked mussels, baby clams, anchovies and garlic

Thinking with our stomachs and not our heads and going against the waiter’s advice, we also order a main sized serving of the fettuccine amatriciana ($13.90). The pasta is slightly under-cooked and barely grips onto the tomato and bacon sauce. It’s meant to be spicy but we find ourselves vigorously shaking on more chilli flakes.
So, we focus on finishing the cold platter and pizza instead.

Papa Gino's Lygon Street Carlton -  fettuccine amatriciana and a garden salad with olives

And because we have over-ordered and over-eaten, we are too full to head further down Lygon Street to Il Dolce Freddo for the much talked about pandan flavoured gelato. Moral to this story? You tell me!
Papa Gino’s
221 Lygon Street, Carlton, VIC
Phone: (03) 9347 5758
Web: www.papaginos.com.au

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Jennifer is the founding blogger of I Ate My Way Through (originally, Jenius.com.au). Growing up in the multicultural melting pot of Sydney’s Inner West as a second generation Australian (of Vietnamese refugee parents of Teochew Chinese ancestry), Jen has always had a deep curiosity about global cuisines, culinary heritage and the cultural assimilation of immigrants. For Jen and her family, food is always at the centre of all celebrations, life events and milestones. A lover of the finer things in life, as well as cheap eats, her blogging ethos is all about empowering and inspiring people to expand their culinary repertoire. When not running her two companies (she is also the Managing Director of The Bamboo Garden online marketing agency), Jen can be found exploring old-world charms at vintage markets and delving into local eats around the world. She has a weakness for fried chicken.