Mediterranean-inspired Collingwood eatery Smith Street Alimentari is now open at night. Linda Jones opened the deli-cafe five years ago with her husband Paul as the follow up to Brunswick Street Alimentari, which they started almost 20 years ago.
“The kids are older now and it’s just the most sublime space in the evening,” Linda says. “So, we just thought, ‘Let’s do it. Now is the time to do it.’”
By day, the deli is crowded – well-loved for its swiftly served Middle Eastern- and Mediterranean-inspired salads – but after dark the restaurant transforms into a calmer and more intimate space. Lights are dimmed, creating a warm and cosy vibe. In an outdoor area out back there are more small wooden tables and potted plants; it’s perfect for summertime.
“It’s really nice if people just come in, chill, have some drinks and take their time,” Linda says. “The staff also love it because they have some time to chat … rather than just taking a quick order. Everything is just really laid-back.”
Alimentari has always had ready-made dinners available to take home (lasagne and risotto, for example), but nights allow the team to branch out. The dinner menu swings Italian, largely centring on woodfired pizza, fresh pastas and an extended cocktail list.
Start with pork and veal meatballs; fried squid with almonds, aioli and pickled zucchini; or potato and smoked mozzarella croquettes.
Pizzas are Neapolitan-style, all handmade by pizza chef Gian Luca, with toppings such as San Daniele prosciutto with buffalo mozzarella; mortadella with pistachio pesto, fior di latte and truffle pecorino; and gorgonzola, smoked scamorza, taleggio and caramelised onion. There’s charry, chewy bread too, topped with ricotta, garlic and thyme.
To drink, classics: Campari Spritz, Negroni or an Averna Sour. A few Italians dot the largely Victorian wine and beer lists.
“We are not re-inventing the wheel,” Linda says. “We never have, to be honest. All Alimentari food has always been very simple.”
Smith Street Alimentari
304 Smith Street, Collingwood
(03) 9416 1666
Tue to Fri 7am–10.30pm