Food and Drink


Mangia Mangia at Italy 528

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Ascot Vale locals will be glad to know that the most recent addition to the Mt. Alexander Road strip is neither a car dealership nor an over 35’s club. Instead, our new neighbour is Italy 528, a casual eatery that really hits the mark in terms of Italian dining.

Over the past few years restaurants such as Philhellene, Khao San Road and Escagrill have lifted the Moonee Valley dining scene from dreary to worthy.

Word has it the chef at 528 emerged from the kitchens of Carlton’s DOC and the similarities speak fairly strongly. Simple, fresh Italian fare allowing quality produce to sing is what this place is all about. Service is genuine and welcoming, though on occasion a little wobbly, so if you’re in a hurry then take away is perhaps a safer option.

As for the food, we tried the antipasto platter, an impressive spread of Italian cheeses, cured meats, breads and pickled vegetables. Superb value at $25 and enough for 2-4 people to share.

But 528 is really all about the pizzas (ranging from $16 – $20), so we get stuck into them next. Pizza Pagano presents as a thin, chewy base covered in traditional tomato sauce. Each slice is topped with a disc of light, creamy fior di latte cheese, a spoonful of pea puree, a hint of chili and a fresh, just-cooked prawn. It’s near perfection and we fight over the last slice.

Several pizzas feature similar cured meats to the antipasto, but after the starter our carnivorous side seems to have taken a nap, so we go vegetarian. Pizza Ortolana is scattered with grilled eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms, and more of the fior di latte. We couldn’t go past the promise of truffle oil along with porcini and Portobello mushrooms on the Pizza Boscaiolo, this time paired with a smooth, earthy fontina cheese, packing a mushroomy punch with every bite.

All the pizzas carry more than their fair share of quality olive oil, but if you can’t get enough of it, chili oil is offered for the table too. Say yes.

Desserts are classic — think tiramisu, affogato & lemon tart. And that’s the thing about 528, they’re not starting a food revolution (look elsewhere for your artichoke foams and sea urchin jellies, Masterchefs) but what they do, they do very well — traditional Italian fare with high quality, fresh ingredients and genuinely welcoming service.

Overall,  528 is a definite mainstay and a valuable addition to the area. And as a local, I’m glad it’s yet to be booked out on a Saturday night.

Italy 528
528 Mt. Alexander Rd, Ascot Vale
9372 7528
Tues – Sat 5pm – 11pm
Sun 12pm – 11pm

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