For part owner and former hairdresser Reno Pontonio, Belle’s is “all about fulfilment”.

Helping personally redesign and build the former Dante’s site, with the aid of business partner Bridget Absalom-Wong and her husband, Pontonio aspires to create warmth and longevity. The timber tones give a retro feel to the space, which includes original 1950s Coles cafeteria booth seating. Large open windows will make the venue almost at one with the street.

The pair believe they have assembled a strong team, with Catriona Freeman (ex-Grace Darling and Panama Dining Room) running the kitchen and previous Madame Brussels front of house John-Anthony Chalker looking after the bar.

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Hoping to offer a touch of old-school America, the menu is inspired by Freeman’s recent trip to New York and will serve diner classics on top of fun specials.

The all-day eatery will churn out bagels, clam chowder, southern fried chicken and a Wagyu beef Dinerr Burger (fans of Twin Peaks will get the reference). A host of salads, sides and a fried green tomato burger make this a vegetarian-friendly destination.

A small drinks list emphasises local wine and beer (including NZ), with boutique cocktails to be made alongside contemporary takes on the classics. The barista will work with Coffee Supreme’s South Blend and yes, there’s a milkshake in the pipeline.

With strong musical backgrounds amongst the team, staff will have input into what tunes are played – Pontonio is also aiming to broadcast non-commercial US radio stations live.

Belle’s Diner
150–156 Gertrude Street, FItzroy
(03) 9077 0788

Tues to Fri 8am–11pm
Sat 9am–11pm
Sun 10am–11pm