Florentino is the Melbourne hub of cucina Italiana. It's an institution, recognised for close to a century as one of the city’s finest Italian restaurants.
Grill offers a fast-paced alternative to the formality of its older sister’s dining rooms. It had a sharp timber and brass refit in 2016, courtesy of Mills Gorman Architects. One side of the room pairs dark-wood tables and chairs with striking lampshades. The other features hand-shaped brass wall cladding and chocolate-coloured leather banquettes.
But it’s in the open kitchen that things changed the most. It packs a charcoal-burning Josper oven and an Asado grill, bringing steaks into even sharper focus than before. The selection includes O’Connor hanger steak and the John Dee Angus “Big Rib for Two”. The Josper also gives a nice char to market fish with Pantelleria capers and marjoram.
Resist jumping straight to mains, though. Like any self-respecting Italian restaurant, there’s a strong selection of antipasti including duck-liver parfait with fig jam, and piadini (flatbread) with black cabbage, lard and pecorino. And pasta, of course.
To match each stage there’s a wide range of aperitivos; pricey wines stored in a vacuum-sealed Coravin system so you can try by the glass; and an Italian-dominated bottle list as long as the history of Florentino itself.