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Mardo's New Sensation in Port Melbourne

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Mardo's is a new Mediterranean sensation in trendy Port Melbourne, nestled in a leafy precinct just out of the city, offering a stunning fit out and passionate fine dining with Head Chef Manuel Villegas at the helm.


The Owner Nick Mardling is an Australian food identity who trains 1000 chefs a year across Australia and who is a foodie through and through. Engage Nick and hear him speak of his culinary journey's around Europe. The World Loves Melbourne enjoyed 4 hours of fine dining as a guest of Mardo's in a night of indulgence.

Head chef Manuel Villegas has a pedigree in fine restaurants of Spain and Australia (ex Garcia & Son, Hairy Canary)and brings the Mediterranean and the best of Spain to Melbourne, bringing first class technique, flair expressed in a comprehensive menu, nuances and authenticity. The dishes show sophisticated techniques while honouring the ingredients. The food sings on the plate in taste and presentation. Also impressive is the fine service - my napkin was replaced 3 times after dropping it on the floor (clumsy me).

And the prices at Mardo's are more than reasonable. To imbibe dishes with hours of technique at affordable prices is a joy.


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Mardo's boasts one of the most attractive dining fitouts and ambience in Melbourne. The old Sloaney Pony pub has had an extreme makeover to make way for Mardo's. Rebecca Villegas came to the project as a former leading interior designer in Europe and her work here is captivating. First class use is made of the large windows as a feature, and an open restaurant and bar area with bentwood chairs and slightly raised tables with fine linen the order of the day. The space fills with natural light during the day and the attractive pendant bulbs take over at night (soon to be installed dimmers will further improve the effect).

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Mardo's also boasts more intimate dining sections including a private room, great for corporates and functions.

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After a Peroni from the bar and a selection of house roasted almonds and marinated Yarra Valley olives, I indulged in a refreshing Gazpacho shot with rock melon essence. An impressive aperitif to get me in the mood. At the "get go" we are entering a world of Spanish authenticity and tastes you may encounter in somewhere like Barcelona. Gazpacho pureed Barcelona style.

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Mardo's has a delightful elegant dining space that is open and vibrant.  It's pleasing to enjoy fine dining in Melbourne in an open not cramped space.

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Mardo's bar has a European flavour with bottles on the table...

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The tapas at Mardo's is exceptional including this Dill cured Atlantic salmon w dijon cream vinaigrette. This dish was wonderfully indulgent with generous portion of Atlantic salmon and the tangy vinaigrette sets off the fish perfectly. This salmon dish is perfect for summer and with the large window behind me open on a balmy summer's night, I was in a land of satiated bliss.

The tapas at Mardo's are best enjoyed with a comprehensive wine list, including Spanish wines. Right now I've got a tempranillo thing going - a departure from the heavy cabernet and shiraz upbringing of my youth.

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The indulgence at Mardo's continued with a sophisticated tapas dish of "Cojonudos" - house made croutons, crispy chorizo, fois gras, quail egg and black truffle. Sometimes served with roast capsicum. Come to mama! 

Not only is the presentation spectacular but this is one of the best tapas dishes I've had in Melbourne. The balance of flavours was perfect and the gooey quail egg set off the dish. Not to mention the black truffles. Woody, gooey, spicy, crunchy ecstacy.

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Mardo's makes just about everything on site, including this house made bread...

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Manuel Villegas is bringing sophisticated Meditteranean cuisine and Catalan influences to Melbourne, and he exudes passion in his cooking. Also charasmatic and charming, he often engages diners when he can. The menu is ever changing and highlights seasonal ingredients.

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Mardo's doesn't cut corners and you get the feeling its all about the foodie experience. The Cured Meats section is welcome on the menu and this dish of Spanish Jamon Iberico de Bellota is the best jamon around. Served with tomato bread this was a further sweet indulgence.

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A stunning and unusual dish was the pot of Smoked stuffed Chicken breast with apricots and sultanas served with sauteed Asian mushrooms and pumpkin. Get out your smoke gun and sous vide for this one. As the wait staff opened the pot there was a waft of smoke for a sense of theatre. 

I enjoyed the smoky and the sweet elements of this dish. The Chicken and vegetables were cooked to perfection, the sous vide technique having being used for the chicken.

Once again there is loads of technique here for an affordable price.

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By now I felt satiated with Meditteranean flavours and sophisticated enjoyable cuisine. But this main course of House made Scallop and Prawn Ravioli w fresh white truffle and light marinara mussels sauce arrested me with its presentation and rich flavours. 

I loved the double take on the seafood with the ravioli filled with scallops and prawns along with the large portions of seafood to match. Canadian scallops of course. The fine sauce on this dish was top notch and the pasta cooked perfectly. Villegas has a reputation with seafood and this dish was one of the most enjoyable I've eaten for a while.

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The Scallop and prawn ravioli was set off by this imported Italian Soave... Soave is a wonderfullydry white wine from the Veneto region in North East Italy, and this was from the DOC zone, fortunately having arrived at the restaurant that day from Italy.

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Mardo's continues the class with its desserts including this European twist on the pavlova - the Caramelized Mango Merengue jug with passion fruit, mango, cream and merengue, along with a rasberry coulis. My spoon dipped deep into the merengue and rasberry coulis, such a playful dish  that refreshed. Again, it's a great summer dish. The compote of mango, further merengue and the dried fruit around the pot was a perfect accompaniment and visually exciting.

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Mardo's has an alluring function space upstairs. The view from the large windows is delightful featuring leafy Port Melbourne.

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Mardo's is an exciting new restaurant in Port Melbourne that takes you on a culinary journey with stunning ambience, great service and highly impressive Meditteranean cuisine. Highly recommended.

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