There aren’t so many restaurants left in Melbourne where they’ll open the door for you, hang your jacket, pull out your chair and fold your napkin across your lap. But this chivalrous manner carries a lot of weight at Florentino.
Originally opened in 1928, the restaurant has since (in early 2013) had a more contemporary makeover by architects Mills Gorman, who also designed the interiors at chef and owner Guy Grossi’s other Bourke Street eatery, Ombra salumi bar.
The grand dining room cites the Renaissance era, with dark wood tables, tall leather upholstered chairs, black marble and large murals plastered across the walls (chosen by original owner Rinaldo Massoni).
The food is where they really turn it on. The kitchen uses top-quality ingredients in traditionally decadent dishes of venison carpaccio, lardo ravioli and honeycomb tripe, suckling pig, roast partridge and hand-cut fettuccini with rock lobster. This is dining at the top level and service is precise, but discreet.
The menu format means every diner eats three courses. If you’re there to really lash out, which of course you are, choose the Gran Tour menu, a lavish five-course set-menu matched with wines from Australia, Italy and France.
It’s the kind of meal you want to linger over for hours, but if you’re scarce for time around midday, there’s the Veloce quick lunch menu for suited city diners. But given the sort of place this is, we recommend you go with the former and take your time.
A recipe from Florentino is featured in The Broadsheet Italian Cookbook. Buy your copy at shop.broadsheet.com.au.