Set just back from the bustling Glenferrie Road, Orto Kitchen & Garden is set to bring a douse of authentic Italian flavour and heritage to the iconic Hawthorn precinct. The only clue to the generous homely restaurant neatly tucked amongst the modern facade of 302 Burwood Road (previously Chester White restaurant), is the welcoming garden sprawling all the way up the entry stairs.
Italian born-and-bred Head Chef Luigi Buono has created the menu from memories of growing up on his Grandfather’s lemon farm in Sorrento, Italy. Aptly named, Orto is derived from the Italian word for ‘Kitchen Garden’, reflecting the restaurant’s sparse outdoor deck area, which can seat up to 80 and houses a large BBQ rotisserie for weekends. It features an outdoor rustic garden, where Buono and the kitchen team select the freshest herbs and spices to complement the dishes.
Buono discovered the craft of traditional Italian cooking and the importance of fresh produce from his greatest teacher, his mother. She inspired him to cook food with love and passion, which filled their home with laughter and love. His experience spans five years in Chicago before moving to Melbourne’s Café e Cuccina, Enoteca Vino Bar and then opening
Melbourne’s Bond Street Wine Bar followed by Sydney’s Enopizzeria.
Now back in his beloved Melbourne, Buono’s regional Italian influence is heavily woven through the Orto menu, as is his fervor for fresh ingredients and earthy flavours. By culminating all his experience, he wants to share simple food, good times and great wine with others.
Owner George Sykiotis of Made Establishment (including The Press Club and Mamababa) says of his new venue, “The outdoor deck is a big draw card, it’s one of the only places Melbournians can come, sit and enjoy the sunshine over a glass of wine. We really wanted to recreate the feeling of the family garden when we were kids, we took inspiration from the bits and
bobs we saw in our back shed to bring the area to life.”
The menu ranges from contemporary Italian starters to share such as ‘White anchovies and shaved fennel’, ‘Shaved tuna bresaola and cauliflower agrodolce’ to traditional pizzas, pasta and a selection of authentic Italian mains. Standout dishesinclude ‘Slow braised goat, potatoes, peas and tuscan pecorino’, ‘Slow cooked lamb shoulder, semolina gnocchi and tuscan
cabbage’ and ‘Veal cotoletta with pancetta, fontina, peperonata and lemon’.
Orto boasts an impressive wine list with a strong Italian influence, carefully tendered by sommelier Hazel Benson-Dawe, formerly of Union Dining, Hellenic Republic. Benson-Dawe is adept at carefully selecting the perfect wine to complement a dish, or in reverse match a BYO bottle to a menu item. There’s a range of classic, simple aperitif cocktails and house variations
including; Bloody Mary (seasoned with anchovy and cerignola olives) and Six Over Six – a neat digestive cocktail with Amaretto and Amaro Montenegro.
Orto Kitchen & Garden is open Monday – Thursday for dinner from 5pm and Friday – Sunday from 12pm for lunch and dinner, and is BYO.