Rita's Cafeteria

239 Johnston Street, Abbotsford, Victoria

All Details
Dark and handsome: Rita's Cafeteria.
Dark and handsome: Rita's Cafeteria. Photo: Justin McManus

Larissa Dubecki

WHERE AND WHAT

It's not on the wrong side of the tracks; it's almost directly under the tracks near Victoria Park station, which suits the low-key ambience of this sweetly realised trattoria helping lead the Abbotsford revival. Yes, even the territory south of Hoddle Street is now being colonised by the young and hirsute. Opened by the savvy crew behind the Lorne revival (Bottle of Milk and Pizza Pizza), Rita's Cafeteria is a smart operation that delivers a bit of bang for your buck in the kind of surroundings that suggest lingering over tiramisu could well be an excellent idea.

 

That's amore: What's not to love about simple Italian fare, such as pizza capriciossa and pickled octopus.
That's amore: What's not to love about simple Italian fare, such as pizza capriciossa and pickled octopus. Photo: Justin McManus

WHERE TO SIT

Follow the smell of pizza to the Rita's threshold, where the name is spelt out in cracked mosaic tiles. Tactile, warm and inviting behind its 1950s white venetians, Rita's is a typically Melbourne-by-way-of-Italy design-savvy mix of scarred timber and white tiles, upholstered booths and high seating along the long bar, all the better for watching the pizzaiola in action. The take-away crowd tend to plonk themselves at the long communal table waiting for their order.

DRINK

There's a decent little wine list with Italian varietals, and the beer list goes from hyper-local (Abbotsford Stout) to Italy with Birra Moretti and long-necks of Peroni.

EAT

Breakfasts play the Melbourne-standard line with only the occasional hint of Italian accent: the likes of eggs with hollandaise, bircher muesli and mushroom bruschetta. At dinner, simple Italian food, done well, starts with small plates of things such as pickled octopus in a herby olive oil slurry, and a fluffy blanket of properly fishy salt cod brandade to slather on crisps, or a snacky plate of marinated olives, roasted almonds and red chilli. The pizza dares to stray away from the gospel of Ladro and Supermaxi et al: the bases are thicker, chewier and semolina-coated for a slightly gritty texture. It's a noticeable difference that might challenge a few die-hard purists; nonetheless, there's plenty to like about a classic capriciossa with nice salty ham and rustic black olives. Orecchiette pasta with vongole owes its charms to heaps of garlic and chilli, and from the mains list there's a pork belly that oozes seasonality with wilted cos lettuce, snow peas and broad beans in a salty stocky base.

WHO'S THERE

A harmonious mix of hipsters and young families.

WHY BOTHER?

A sweet Italian spot in the Abbotsford 'hood.

Rate this restaurant

Rate this restaurant:

Use [left] and [right] keys to rate, [enter] to submit, [esc] to cancel.

Rate this restaurant with 0.5 a star Rate this restaurant with 1 star Rate this restaurant with 1.5 stars Rate this restaurant with 2 stars Rate this restaurant with 2.5 stars Rate this restaurant with 3 stars Rate this restaurant with 3.5 stars Rate this restaurant with 4 stars Rate this restaurant with 4.5 stars Rate this restaurant with 5 stars

Write a review

Thanks for voting!

Write a review

239 Johnston Street, Abbotsford, Victoria

  • Cuisine - Italian
  • Features - Licensed
  • Opening Hours - Daily 7.30am-11pm
  • Author - Larissa Dubecki
Close map

Similar Restaurants

1 comment so far

  • Why don't you mention the prices?

    Commenter
    Catherine
    Location
    Date and time
    October 13, 2013, 12:03PM

Make a comment

You are logged in as [Logout]

All information entered below may be published.

Error: Please enter your screen name.

Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Please enter your comment.

Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

Post to

You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

Thank you

Your comment has been submitted for approval.

Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

Most viewed restaurants

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Most viewed restaurants in Sydney

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Most viewed restaurants in Melbourne

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Most viewed restaurants in Brisbane

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Most viewed restaurants in Canberra

View all

You can also view recent reviews for:

Promotions

From cooking advice to top accessories, here's a food lover's barbecue guide.

Winemaker Louisa Rose is the custodian of both Yalumba tradition and innovation.