Type of Venue: Restaurant
Cuisine: Italian food
Highly Recommended: Mare Nostrum, Wagyu Bresaola Carpaccio, any of their gnocchi, Di Parma pizza, Tiramisu
A pizza e gnocchi bar worth bringing your Nonna to. Following in the footsteps of their popular South Yarra venue, 48h Pizza e Gnocchi Bar have now opened a second location in Elsternwick. With more of a family-friendly ambience and community feel, this second location exudes relaxed vibes, complemented by the fun and cheerful staff.
48h is co-owned by Fabio Biscaldi and Michele Circhirillo, both of whom previously worked with the D.O.C. group… thus, Italian food and hospitality are their specialties. The Elsternwick location boasts a delicatessen within their intimately-designed restaurant, perfectly supplementing its reputation as a pizza, gnocchi and wine bar.
Their speciality in pizza and gnocchi is obvious not only in the name, but also in the focused selection of items on their menu, where pizza and gnocchi are the only items available, apart from some antipasti, salads and desserts. The reason behind the name “48h” also has significance, referring to the minimum length of time that the co-owners believe pizza dough should sit and rise for, in order to produce a light and perfectly crusty dough.
Fresh, high quality ingredients are used in everything they make, with the authenticity of their concept supported by the array of Italian-imported products displayed around the venue (as well as by the Italian origins of all of their staff and chefs). Their dedication to their craft is further indicated by a commercial kitchen meat slicer sitting on the counter. Their weekly specials are written on a chalkboard above the kitchen area, and can include a gnocchi, pizza and pasta dish. Each of these specials features a single, consistent ingredient, which then changes as the weekly specials change.
Starting with an antipasti, the Mare Nostrum is a showstopper for all the cheese-lovers out there. The Roman name for the Mediterranean Sea, Mare Nostrum at 48h is a claypot of hot, gooey, melting Mediterranean cheeses, mixed with wild herbs, and topped with their famous wood-fired dough. Break through the puffed focaccia-like bread, and use this (or the accompanying focaccia breads) to dip into the melting cheese, but not before thoroughly mixing the cheeses to create the perfect consistency.
Mare Nostrum ($22.00)
New to the Elsternwick menu, Wagyu Bresaola Carpaccio easily serves 3-4 people as a starter, with generously-sized and thinly-sliced cured beef surrounding the plate. Topped with fresh rocket, shaved Parmigiano and iced celery, the earthy flavours are very well seasoned, and ready the palate for their intensely flavoured pizzas and gnocchi.
Wagyu Bresaola Carpaccio ($25.00)
All of their gnocchi are made using gluten-free flour, thus producing a lighter texture that is easy to digest. Offering vegetarian, seafood and simply-sauced gnocchi options, they try to cater to a variety of dietary requirements. The most intriguing gnocchi is their activated charcoal gnocchi, made of three types of flour (potato, activated charcoal and gluten-free). A mysteriously black-coloured gnocchi goes well with vegetarian options, as it is quite a light yet rich-tasting product.
If you have a minimum of 4 people, I’d recommend going for the Parmigiano, which is served with the activated charcoal gnocchi. The gnocchi is cooked in a sauce of peeled Sicilian cherry tomatoes, then tossed in half a wheel of Parmigiano. The steaming hot gnocchi helps to melt the sides of the Parmigiano wheel, making the scraping of the Parmigiano cheese much easier. Described on the menu as ‘Parmesan rashiatura peeled datterini‘, this translates to scraped Parmesan with peeled tomatoes, which adds a bit of theatrical excitement to the table.
Parmigiano Gnocchi ($24.50 per person)
If you didn’t believe me when I mentioned earlier how authentic their concept it, then how about the fact that we couldn’t order the Sudtirolo pizza because they were still waiting on the speck to arrive from Italy. Instead, we went with the Di Parma pizza, topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella fior di latte, prosciutto di Parma, air-freighted buffalo mozzarella, rocket and 36-month aged Parmigiano. Exhibiting an exceptionally delicious base that is nicely crisp after being wood-fired in the oven, whilst remaining light, airy and perfectly chewy at the same time, there is a reason why their pizza is one of the best in Melbourne.
Di Parma ($24.00)
The most popular Italian pick-me-up dessert, traditionally given to sick children to make them feel better, the Tiramisu at 48h is a must-order. If you appreciate an equal sponge-to-cream ration, sufficient coffee flavour soaked into the sponge, and a well balanced sweetness from the cocoa chocolate and mascarpone cream, then you will enjoy this dessert as much as I did.
Successfully integrating traditional Italian food, wine and hospitality into Melbourne’s multicultural restaurant scene, 48h Pizza e Gnocchi Bar is a must-visit. Potentially one of my favourite Italian restaurants due to their high quality food and wine, paired with exceptionally friendly service, the intimate and slightly rustic ambience of their Elsternwick location enables the customer to revel in the joy of eating, drinking and interacting with others.
Note: I dined as a guest of 48h Pizza e Gnocchi Bar. Thank you to the management and staff for their generous hospitality throughout our experience.
48h Pizza e Gnocchi Bar
15 Gordon Street
Ph: (03) 9089 0422
Hours: Mon-Thurs 12-3pm, 5-10pm, Fri-Sat 12-3pm, 5-11pm, Sun 12-10pm.