Red Hill’s acclaimed winery restaurant Montalto has closed until November for its first renovation in 15 years.

The restaurant opened in 2002 and has become an institution on the Mornington Peninsula, known for its picturesque vineyard views, olive groves and refined menu. But it’s time for a change, says head chef Gerard Phelan, who describes the white-tablecloth dining room as now “very old school” with a standard entree-main-dessert menu.

“We have decided to ditch all of that, ripping off the linen, getting nice wooden tables and bringing it into the now,” Phelan says. “We are going for that more relaxed, modern, fine dining experience with less rules.”

Phelan’s new menu will be less structured, with lots of sharing plates and snacks, as well as the option to have a five or eight-course tasting menu.

The refurbishment will create a new kitchen area featuring an Argentine-style open fire grill that will become the primary method of cooking.

“We will try and use this as creatively as we can, like cooking things in ash overnight,” Phelan says.

The new menu will also make better use of the property’s burgeoning three-acre vegetable garden, with a menu that’s very “vegetable-driven”.

“A lot more love will go into it, and we can take a lot more produce from our garden,” Phelan says.

The space will also feature a new bar area and long chef’s table, which will seat between 10 and 14 diners right in front of the kitchen.

The newly refurbished Montalto restaurant will reopen on November 3. The Piazza cafe will continue to run as normal during the restaurant renovation.

Until then, fans can get a taste of the new Montalto – and signature dishes from the past 15 years – at Montalto in Town, which will run for three nights at the end of October in South Melbourne.

montalto.com.au