Patrick Ciccaldo and Hugo Diaz (owners of Café Bedda in Northcote) have turned a long-standing dream into reality by opening new Italian restaurant Cantina Centrale in Mont Albert.

Cantina Centrale differs from Café Bedda in that it takes inspiration from the whole of Italy (not just Sicily). This allows them more room to move and explore the range of flavours that Italy has to offer. They have kept their beloved pizza dough recipe and now cook them in a wood-fired oven. The pizzas, cooked perfectly and offered at a very reasonable price point, will be a constant on the menu, while the rest will change weekly.

You might see a roasted spatchcock stuffed with lemon and ricotta served on asparagus or a rustic pasta with a mixed ragu of chicken, beef and pork. Or for something a little different, order a serve of the savoury pumpkin doughnuts to start.

The drinks offering is simple, with 10 white wines, 10 red wines and five beers on the list. The wine boasts Italian and Australian varieties, while the beers are all Italian bar one. Sprits are also looked after in true Italian style with limoncello and grappa behind the bar.

Ciccaldo, a Mont Albert local, had been waiting for that perfect building to materialise in the area for some time. Finally he found an empty deep brick, copper trimmed building on Hamilton Street.

“I thought, ‘I would love to open an Italian Restaurant in that building’,” Ciccaldo says.

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After some negotiation the site was secured and Cantina Centrale came alive.

With chef and co-owner Hugo Diaz cooking the kind of food he grew up with, diners are in for a treat. “Good Italian home-style cooking, honest food…” muses Ciccaldo. “I want people to walk away and say, ‘Wow. that was great’.”

And the locals have welcomed Cantina Centrale with open arms. “Customers keep saying, ‘Thank you so much’. It’s like we saved their lives, where have they been eating before?” chuckles Ciccaldo.

Cantina Centrale
11 Hamilton Street, Mont Albert
(03) 9890 4836

Tues to Sun 5.30pm–10pm