Matti Fallon’s much-anticipated Colt Dining burnt down during its first month of trade in October last year. The Mornington eatery was the chef’s return to the industry after undergoing brain surgery in 2019.

Now, six months on from the devastating electrical blaze, the chef and his team have opened Mr Vincenzo’s, the first of three new venues from Fallon on Mornington’s Esplanade.

The playful Italian restaurant will be followed by a production kitchen and a fine diner – with tongue-in-cheek decor including burnt Japanese black timber and fire-themed lighting – due to open in the same building in December. The team also plans to reopen Colt in the coming years.

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The menu was designed by Fallon and head chef Michael Kharsas (who was sous-chef at Colt). “There is nothing too traditional, but we are using a lot of Italian techniques and ingredients with our spin on it. We’re not Italian and we are not pretending to be,” Kharsas tells Broadsheet.

Photography: Sally Goodall

Expect three pastas on the menu at any time. There’ll always be a vegan offering and fun large-format pastas such as thick, hand-rolled pici noodles, Jurassic-sized gnocchi, or ravioli Dauphiné (two whole pasta sheets filled and rolled into an uncut slab of ravioli).

“We’ll change the menu as often as we can,” says Kharsas. “We are working with a lot of small producers, incrementally adding and subtracting weekly.”

Snacks and small plates currently include chargrilled mortadella skewers with a fig glaze, garlic flatbread with pickled onions, and Moreton Bay bug with fermented pepper butter and cured egg yolk. Desserts have included baked Basque cheesecake with basil and a salted pistachio crumble on top, and a strawberry-and-cream panna cotta.

Matti Fallon. Photography: Sally Goodall

The wine list is entirely made up of Italian varietals, and two-thirds comes from Italy. Cocktails are classic for now, but Fallon and Kharsas plan to batch up more inventive drinks in the production kitchen when it opens.

Mr Vincenzo’s is named for the late grandfather of Paul Godard, Fallon’s business partner. Images of older Sicilian people hanging out on the beach can be on the venue’s walls and on Mr Vincenzo’s social media.

“We wanted to do the complete opposite of what normal people do,” Fallon says. “All the artwork is anti-influencer and anti-gorgeous models and neon signs. We have old people hanging out on the beach. We don’t want to be pretentious; we want everyone to feel welcome.”

Photography: Sally Goodall

The space – a concrete shell in the bottom of a new apartment complex – has been transformed with the help of the community. The landlord is giving the team 12 months rent-free, the paint job was paid for by Taubmans, Bunnings Frankston provided all building materials at a significant discount, and local ceramicist Robert Gordon donated crockery and some furnishings for the terrace.

The venue, with its wine-bottle-green floors, corduroy and cork accents, red-glazed tiles behind the bar, and waffle-yellow walls, has the same 1970s vibe as Colt. The burnt orange details throughout the space echo the old venue, and the Colt Dining sign – the only thing that survived the blaze back in October – is mounted on the wall.

Mr Vincenzo’s
784 The Esplanade, Mornington

Fri & Sat midday–11pm
Sun midday–7pm
Mon & Thurs 5pm–11pm