Casoncelli is a kind of stuffed pasta from Lombardy, which doesn’t usually get a look-in compared to other more popular pasta shapes. But it’s a specialty at Oster. Co-owner and chef Nicola Romano grew up in the northern Italian town, and wanted to bring the region’s cuisine to Melbourne.
At Oster, the casoncelli di magro are silky twisted pillows of pasta wrapped around spinach and ricotta that arrive under a cheesy cloud of whipped grana padano foam and topped with burnt butter and fried sage. A grasso version comes filled with pork instead of spinach. It’s part of a weekly changing tasting menu that can also include the likes of red capsicum risotto with black garlic and mullet bottarga, delicate blue swimmer crab with daikon, and crisp pork belly with broad beans.
For dessert, a deconstructed lemon meringue tart is a stack of lemon, shortcrust pastry and meringue that’s flamed when plated, served with house-made raspberry sorbet. At lunch $27 will get you a bowl of pasta, a local wine and some tiramisu.
The space was designed with help from Romano’s mother – an interior designer who flew to Australia from Italy to help. It’s dimly lit with concrete finishes and polished floorboards. Stripped-back rendered walls reveal the red brick underneath, and low-hanging pendant lighting creates a warm and welcoming feel.