Italian pasta chef and visa worker Andrea Vignali has turned one of 2020's best side-hustle success stories into a bricks-and-mortar business. The opening of Al Dente Enoteca – in partnership with Vignali's great friend, the equally talented Davide Bonadiman – is a victory of community.
Melburnians rallied behind the young chefs through lockdown by buying home-delivered pasta in the absence of government support.
Of course, it also helps that they make outstanding pasta, rich in egg yolks, big on love, and perfectly melding Italian tradition with top Australian produce. There's no doubt their tortellini cacio e pepe, lobster ravioli and soft-centred chocolate pudding helped hundreds through the groundhog days of 2020.
The double-fronted Carlton shop opened two weeks ago as a food store, stocked with pasta (freshly made and sold frozen for cooking at home), sauces, desserts and house-made pickles. There are also carefully chosen goods from favoured suppliers, including local bean-to-bar Good Boy Chocolate, balsamic vinegar from Reggio Emilia, and Tassoni, a retro Italian lemon soft drink.
Within weeks the 35-seat enoteca will open for sit-down meals. Expect a classic Italian menu structure, with spritzes, oysters and raw fish plates, restaurant-exclusive pasta dishes and braised meats.
The chefs will also continue weekly delivery menus via cookaborough.com/andre-vignali
161-163 Nicholson Street, Carlton, 0483 800 861