A wave of nostalgia hits as soon as you enter Ciao Mate, a compact Italian joint in Bangalow Village. If it’s not coming from romantic Italo-American vibe, it’ll be the clever plates and slick service you may have experienced elsewhere in Byron Bay. This is another standout from local operators Matt Rabbidge, Luke Sullivan and notable chef Matt Stone – the team behind The Eltham Hotel and You Beauty around the corner. (Melbourne chef Nick Stanton was a founding partner before moving onto Coolangatta’s Bar Evelyn in 2022.)
As ever, Stone brings his schtick for local, sustainable ingredients to the table here. And while the menu feels familiar, it’s also got surprises in store. Olives, anchovies, house pickles and burrata with flatbread kick off proceedings. But before you pull the trigger on pizza (margherita, salami, and prawn with ’nduja and gremolata are choice picks), ask about the daily pastas and plates. It might be conchiglie with rocket, chickpeas and fermented chilli on one hand; charr-y fish wings with agrodolce, pine nuts and raisins on the other.
Past the art deco frontage of this former jewellery shop, you’ll always be met with a casual scene: couples drinking Negronis at the bar; families crowded into dark timber booths punctuated with lino prints by Sydney artist Allie Webb. Beyond the cream-and-green checkerboard tiling is a lively, covered courtyard – that’s your destination on balmy Byron nights.
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