Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Tiamo, Carlton by Foghorn Leghorn

If you walk up Lygon St Carlton at dinner time, you will notice one thing that makes Tiamo stand out. Many of the restaurants are half-empty, and in some places there are aggressive touts who try to drag customers into their miserable tourist traps. Tiamo is the opposite: there’s usually a gaggle of people waiting outside for a table. With a restaurant, that’s all the recommendation you need.

Tiamo, Carlton, braised lamb
Braised lamb

I remember eating at Tiamo in the early 1980s, when it was just a tiny cafĂ© in a narrow space, popular with the university crowd (which included me). Since then, it’s expanded next door, and added rows of outdoor tables. Fortunately, the kitchen has kept pace with the expanded floor space, so you never have to wait too long for a meal.

Tiamo, Carlton
People waiting for a table

The menu has a good range, and the specials change often enough to keep it interesting. One day it might be rabbit, another time it can be goat, or lamb, or veal saltimbooca.

This time around, I decided to try a Risotto Milanese, and Mrs Shiraz went for braised lamb leg with polenta.

Tiamo, Carlton, risotto Milanese
The risotto included saffron, pancetta, peas and dried tomatoes. It was very good, but I don’t think the dried tomatoes really belonged – their sweetish taste didn’t fit with the savoury ingredients. Later on, to satisfy my curiosity, I looked up Risotto Milanese, to see what the ingredients should be, and found that there’s no real agreement on the subject. Most people include saffron, some recipes include peas, and after that it’s anyone’s guess. My Larousse Gastronomique (1988 edition) doesn’t include peas, but does include tomato fondue, pickled ox tongue, ham, mushrooms and white truffle.

The braised lamb was excellent (see first pic). It had obviously been slow cooked for ages, giving it a rich flavour that could be soaked up by the polenta. For some reason, potatoes had been added to the mix.

Tiamo, Carlton, wine
Our wine

I don’t have a sweet tooth, and Mrs Shiraz limits her intake of sugary treats, so we didn’t have dessert.

Tiamo, Carlton, gelato
#Selfie #gelato #RememberToEatItBeforeItMelts

However, we did notice that the ice-cream shop next door was doing a roaring trade, as always. On warm evenings there’s usually a line of people stretching out the door, and the place is so renowned that people take selfies with their ice-cream cones. So if you’re in Lygon Street on a warm evening, it’s probably worth checking out.

Tiamo, Carlton


We really liked it
We really liked it.
Mid value
Mid value.


Tiamo offers good Italian food at a good price, in a pleasant atmosphere. That’s why we always return there, and why there are usually people waiting for a table. It’s not fancy (wine is not served in wine glasses), and the sight of waiting people doesn’t encourage you to linger. It’s set up in European style, with plane trees for shade and big heaters for cold weather.

We brought our own wine (there was no corkage charge), and our two meals cost us just over $50. In that part of Melbourne, you can pay more for a couple of hamburgers.

Find it at

303 Lygon Street
Carlton VIC 3053
Phone: (03) 9347 5759

Tiamo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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