Over the years I’ve lived in North Melbourne, I had walked by this establishment many a time and the voice inside my head was go, ‘you really must try this place next time, seems popular’. Well, as is my frequent bad tendency, I continuously overlooked this place until in the recent months since moving away from North Melbourne.
I like the open layout of the place. Sure, it might seem a little cramped up when entering by the main door, but once you shuffle past the cashier, the pastries and the coffee prep area, it opens out to a private back area. Alternatively, tables are also available behind the cash counter, and on fine days the transparent plastic sheets are rolled back for full access to the pavement. A couple of tables are parked by the street for those in greater need for the sunshine.
Although not as glamourised as Seven Seeds or Proud Mary, Di Bella also stock their own beans and concoct their own blends. Their cold drips are only $4.50, and are served in little flasks with a cork stopper. The flavours tend to be more astringent and acidic, less round-bodied than those offered by Proud Mary. I don’t think this is necessarily a negative, because I found it ideal to sip and cleanse my palate after a richer choice for breakfast.
For the unadventurous, their almond croissants are reasonable-sized, the pastry is on the denser side and slightly sweet. I’ve also had the smoky baked beans with house-made blackpudding, kaiserfleich and fried egg for $17.90. I found this to be very substantial – there is no skimping back on the beans which are prepared close to perfection, not overly squishy which is quite a turn off for me. The tomato-based sauce is not sickly sweet, and the black pudding is not over-spiced too while at the same time providing a meaty richness. I found my egg to be much less than the sunny-side up usual, but this works well as to have runny egg yolk mingling with the tomato sauce and beans – that might be perfectly messy only for 3 year olds. I did think the kaiserfliech was perfect the awkward extra in this, there was enough smokiness and meat already on offer, and perhaps this could be replace with salad leaves of some sort dressed with lemon to cut through the heavier flavours and provide a little contrast within the dish.
Overall, I really like this joint. It’s relaxing to read the papers in leisure, immerse yourself in the mumbling vibes of conversation emanating from the surrounds. On Sundays, there is ample 4P parking on Leveson St just a block down. The perfect destination for a break from Auction Rooms. I’ll definitely be back here.