32 Young St
Moonee Ponds, 3039
03 9375 2896
A decent trek across town, a few turns here and there, a short stroll down a cobble stone alleyway and you will find a Tuscan mural leading to the backyard entrance to this café. Amongst the relaxing evergreens of the shaded garden the little details in all the handcraft, the family memories and very friendly hospitality provide generous warmth that is certainly an “oasis of calm” (quoting Thanh).
Stella and Sam, the owners of this little garden café, have nested here since 1971 – and at this same spot they have raised their children, created many of their life memories, struggled through a 2 year legal-bureaucratic battle with the council for their café permit, to now finally opening their backyard café to the public. I won’t rattle on much more, but you can certainly read more about their endearing story here: Thanh, The Age, Penny, Msihua.
On display are Stella’s hand crafted chocolates and various cute sweet bites.
Whilst Stella helps fix his apron, Lance makes me and mum some smooth hot chocolate.
Dark hot cioccolata – made with 54% cocoa couverture chocolate, these generous mugs of silky smooth and endlessly creamy chocolate are certainly a winner. Apparently there is also a chilli version too.
Scones – simple plain scones that are a little crumbly and a little moist, accompanied with a smear of jam and dollop of extra fluffy house made cream. Stella explains these are baked fresh daily and should not be subject to microwaving as it changes the scones texture. She then goes on to crack a joke that Italians don’t actually use microwaves anyways. Love her sense of humour!
Pizzelle – these lovely Italian waffle cookies crack effortlessly into quarters with a gentle nudge at the centre. They are paper thin, crisp with a simple buttery aroma.
Mini cupcakes – I’m generally not a cup cake person, generally finding them too sweet with the high ratio of icing / cream. Thanh however, certainly enjoyed these little cute creations labelling them as one of the best he had tried!
Chocolate truffles – these handcrafted goodies were on the other hand definitely my cup of tea. They had a smooth rich centre of ganache and a crumbly outer shell of chocolate shards. Each bite fills the mouth with the wonderful sweet-bitterness of couverture chocolate. Note: each of these are hand made by Stella, with the utmost attention to detail, so grab some before they run out!
And whilst we waited for the lunch’ier part of our visit, we sat back and enjoyed a cup of their “secret” blend of coffee using locally sourced beans. They don’t pretend to make the best in town, but having said that coffee standards are extremely high in Melbourne, and these have a nice acidity and light foaminess to them.
Sam in action! Wood fire pizza coming our way!!!
Capricciosa – a simple blend of napoli, mozzarella, ham, mushrooms and olives on a lovely wood fired crust. I must say though, given my mad liking of mushroom, I actually prefer having layer upon layer of fragrant mushroom piled on my capricciosa. =P
Patato – As I was taking the photo of this pizza, the herbaceous notes wafting my way was just mouth watering! Below the sprinkle of aromatic rosemary and thin slices of crispy potato, lay a generous smear of locally sourced basil pesto with fior di latte cheese melted in on the thin crispy base. Absolutely loved the flavour combination in this pizza!
Rating: Yummy, and certainly +1 for my patato pizza and those lovely hand crafted truffles. The Maurici family are enormously friendly. The café is a mere extension of their family home, giving it a comforting tranquillity.
Sam, Stella & Lance.
[We dined courtesy of Garden Tuscany]