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

Papa Gino's on Urbanspoon

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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.
  • I used to eat at Papa Gino’s many years ago in my undergrad years. I don’t anymore because I feel that their standard hasn’t been quite the same since.
    Freddo’s on the other hand, very much worth the trip. Hope you will be going back there next time you come by Melb!

  • ALWAYS save room for dessert and don’t fill up on carbs, hehe!

  • Mooksy

    frozen prawns on the pizza!!!

  • I love that place. Been there a couple of times. Always full!

  • Jen

    Hahaha, yep, I guess that’s it! But I love savoury too much. I always want dessert followed by another savoury course, hehe…

  • Jen

    I think I was more disappointed by the fact that they were tiny shrimps and not decent sized prawns…

  • Jen

    The serving sizes are humongous!

  • Jen

    Thanks, I have Il Dolce Freddo high up on my to-eat list for my next visit to Melbourne! What flavours do you recommend?

  • I just moved from Melbourne & I loved Lygon Street.

  • I find Lygon street really difficult. There are just many great places to eat and all the food looks so gorgeous. The cold platter looks seriously good, I could feast on just cold meats and cheese.

  • Woohoo!!
    You came to Melb to eat again! I love Lygon street.. there’s just so many places to eat and the quality of ingredients for the price you pay are pretty fair.
    I like the veal and the chicken mushroom risotto @ Papa’s.

  • Ah, the eternal frustration we spice eaters have with everyone else’s definition of “spicy”. Still – everything looked pretty darn tasty!

  • Jen

    You’ll have to give me tips on where to go! Everything on Lygon Street looked delicious!

  • Jen

    I agree, I need to do more research on Lygon Street to see which restaurants are unmissable! Looks like there are many more trips to Melbourne to come! 😀

  • Jen

    Actually, this post is from the first trip! I know, I was only there for a week or so but ate SO MUCH! I did come back to Melbourne though, but only for the weekend. I’ve got a few more Melbournian posts to write! The risotto sounds good but I’d like to try somewhere fancier next I think. Any recs?

  • Jen

    LOL! Tell me about it!

  • Well since you spend most of your time around the inner city I recommend you go to Maha Bar & Grill. 21 Bond Sreet, Melbourne, 3000 (just in case your using a GPS) hehe!.
    It’s just off Flinders lane near Queens st.
    Make sure you get the Soufra set menu as it’s their specialty. They have great service but more importantly the food is fantastic!
    Hope you gobble and write about it on your next visit! hehe!

  • Ooh, kinda glad we gave this place a miss when friends visited a few days ago. Can’t bring myself to eat less than awesome authentic Italian food.
    Lygon Street was a really infuriating experience, being hassled with free bottles of wine, bruschetta and garlic bread if we visit restaurant x instead of restaurant y.
    Instead we went to Gurkhas for Nepalese food and it was amazing!

  • Jen

    Brilliant, thanks for that! I was thinking about going to Mezzo Bar & Grill which is on Little Bourke Street but didn’t get enough time. I’ll keep Maha & Mezzo on my list for the next trip.
    Yes – I haven’t quite built up the courage to head out of Melbourne city yet! I’m keen to check out the Little Vietnam along Victoria Street, Richmond.
    So much to eat and so little time!

  • Jen

    Yea, they all really muddled up my mind about where I wanted to eat! Glad you ended up at an amazing restaurant 😉