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June 9, 2017

Just One Thing… at La Moka

Go for the coffee, stay for this menu item.

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  • Story: Sharmonie Cockayne

The CityMag office is a mostly meat-eating office, but, at La Moka, things are different.


La Moka can be found at 16A Peel Street.

Lunch + coffee = $14

Monday to Thursday 7am to 4pm
Friday 7am to 2am
Saturday 5.30pm to 2am
Sunday closed

We’re always at La Moka. Mostly for coffee. But, if we’re eating, we’re ordering the lasagne, and if we’re ordering the lasagne, we’re choosing the veg option over the bolognese.

Our resident hand model, Johnny Von Einem, dips into the lasagne.

It’s layered with tomato sauce (“Not napoletana sauce. Many make the mistake of assuming it has to be napoletana  sauce,” says co-owner Manuel Francesconi), white sauce, dry pasta sheets (“Don’t use a fresh one for lasagna because it goes soggy, it’s got too much water”), and thick skinned veggies such as capsicum, eggplant, and zucchini.

Soft, comforting, and packed full of nostalgic warm fuzzies (figuratively, of course), the dish is akin to slipping into a freshly made bed with new flannelette sheets on a frosty winter’s night.

Manuel concocted the recipe in the La Moka kitchen,and  tells us that he didn’t always serve the vegetable lasagne. Of the three years La Moka has been open on Peel Street, the veg lasagna has only been sold for two.

While the plant-based version is delicious, it’s not an authentic experience – that right is reserved for the bolognese lasagne traditionally made in Italy. But, with the growing vegetarian population in Australia, it was a necessary addition to the menu.

Manuel says that, since opening, the Peel Street café has become so busy that the lasagne is now specially made in Andre’s Cucina‘s Prospect kitchen.

“Instead of risking of cutting corners, it’s better to give it to the special kitchen,” he says. “We’re the only ones that they make the lasagna for.”

The chef is Italian too, says Manuel, the inflection in his speech implying just how important it is to keep the recipe in Italian hands.

If, like us, you grew up with European grandparents, home-made lasagne was also probably a staple in your childhood diet – which will make the La Moka version a trip down every lane. But even without that background, we reckon it will make you smile with every bite.

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