The Alphington Social is a neighbourhood Italian diner in an old bank building. Inside, black lettering spells out “cheese” and “bar” on strips of white floor tiles, and a taxidermy stag head is guardian to the open fireplace, which is fitted into an exposed-red-brick-wall.

Begin with snacks such as bone marrow with bacon marmalade, mozzarella polenta chips with romesco, and the day’s arancini. Next, pasta. Pillowy ricotta gnocchi comes with a mix of mushrooms, wild garlic and a smoky chestnut sauce, topped with watercress and crisp sheets of parmesan. If you’re after something larger, more substantial mains include osso bucco, and duck with cider-braised fennel. If you’re looking to share, a slow-cooked lamb shoulder with roast potatoes is worth trying.

For pizza, try the broccolini and pork sausage combo with olives, chilli and garlic. A simpler burrata, tomato sugo and basil option is a safe, but tasty, bet.

The cheese fridge takes up one entire wall. Go for the house selection with condiments such as pickled octopus, lamb rillettes and quince paste or choose your own from the huge selection that includes both local and international varieties.

Beyond the dining room and the bar, there’s a 60-seat outdoor courtyard, which feels just as unfussed and relaxed as indoors. It’s a great spot to have a wine from the exclusively Aussie list, or maybe a bottle of local ale.

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Updated: October 15th, 2019

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