Dining with a cheeky wink... Matteo's.
Dining with a cheeky wink... Matteo's. Photo: Supplied

533 Brunswick St Fitzroy North, VIC 3068

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Opening hours Mon-Sun 12 Noon – 3:00 PM 6:00 – 10:00 PM
Features Bar, BYO, Accepts bookings, Business lunch, Degustation, Gluten-free options, Licensed, Lunch specials, Long lunch, Private dining, Romance-first date, Vegetarian friendly, Family friendly, Outdoor seating, Events
Prices Expensive (mains over $40)
Chef Kah-wai (Buddha) Lo
Seats 85
Payments Diner's Club, eftpos, AMEX, Cash, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 03 9481 1177

For two decades Matteo's has offered fine dining with a cheeky wink. A heritage building, plush fittings and stiff linen bestow gravitas, and the food is ambitious and original, but proprietor Matteo Pignatelli sets a genial, light-hearted tone. Longtime chef Brendan McQueen's food melds European and Japanese techniques and ingredients to create complex, pretty dishes. A seafood entree that counterpoints pert, juicy scallops and a quivering wedge of polenta-crusted tofu is a sublime balance of firm and yielding textures, sweet and funky flavours. A keen eye on the seasons shows in an autumnal mushroom medley featuring silky Japanesque steamed custard with shiitake, and a Francophile puff-pastry pie bursting with portobello mushrooms. Desserts are extravagant: dainty layers of confit apple are attended by clouds of cinnamon 'snow' and earthy rhubarb ice-cream. Matteo's longevity points to a professional approach but it's the spry spirit of the restaurant that endears it to Melbourne diners.

And … There are special menus for vegetarians, vegans and children.

Easygoing luxury.
Best bit The warm, confident welcome.
Worst bit The long and winding road to the toilets.