Boccaccio Cellars, an Italian grocer and bottle shop, first opened its doors in 1963. And ever since, the family-run Balwyn store “has always been known as a food destination – not just Italian food, but great jamon, great oysters, great products from France and Spain,” as Boccaccio Group CEO Anthony D’Anna says.
“For us, Enoteca Boccaccio is an extension of what we have, but also ties in 60 years of our work into one space. It’s basically the best of Boccaccio in a 50-seat restaurant,” D’Anna tells Broadsheet.
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As you walk up the stairs to the venue, a quote from the famed 14th-century Italian writer for whom the store is named, Giovanni Boccaccio, prepares you for the evening: “It’s better to repent what you enjoyed than to repent not having enjoyed anything.”
The fit-out, designed by South Yarra firm Mim Design, features Carrara marble, granite, brass and terracotta. Bar stools in the darkly lit space centre around the kitchen pass in the centre of the room and natural light pours in through the windows during the day.
Executive head chef Andrew Beddoes (who previously worked at Tartine in Richmond) and his team are on full display as they prepare dishes that are influenced by classic Italian and pan-European cuisines.
You’ll find larger dishes like sea bream with cabbage cooked in vongole stock, charred on a hibachi and topped with vongole tartare. And a rich ragu served with tagliatelle and made from brined and braised Westerly Downs duck legs that are combined with porcini mushrooms and chianti.
There are plenty of smaller bites like mortadella-stuffed olives, duck prosciutto made from the breasts not used in the ragu, and grilled Fremantle octopus with ajo blanco (a cold Spanish soup) and charred cos.
Regular Boccaccio visitors will be familiar with the store’s wine selection (particularly its specialty imports), but D’Anna has turned it up at Enoteca. Two cellars’ worth of wine have been shipped over from Italy, representing thousands of bottles and decades of collecting, including famed Italian producers like Emidio Pepe, Castello di Monsanto and Gianfranco Soldera, with vintages going back to the 1960s. The everyday bottle list features 50 wines under $100, while you’ll also find specialty by-the-glass pours like Krug champagne and Mount Mary chardonnay.
And thanks to Enoteca Boccaccio’s official head of cheese Olivia Sutton (formerly of Harper & Blohm, there’s also an extensive formaggio selection. Behind floor-to-ceiling glass you’ll spy Sutton’s picks, including Stone & Crow Night Walker, a soft cheese washed with Hoddles Creek chardonnay or pinot gris.
Level 1/1046 Burke Road, Balwyn
Tue to Thu 5:30pm–late
Fri & Sat midday–late
Sun midday (lunch only)