Pass through the 1890s neo-gothic facade of Melbourne’s Rialto building to find Ronnie’s, a moody and inviting Italo-American restaurant brimming with New York charm. Founded by Matthew Butcher (of hospitality collective ETO), the 80-seat restaurant serves up family-style plates of house-made pasta, seafood and veggie-leaning starters.
Scan the menu and you’ll find plenty of elevated New York-style Italian favourites. Starters might include slow-cooked octopus with cannellini beans, or a light caprese salad with raddichio and aged balsamic. For mains, there’s a saucy, spicy vodka fusilli with whipped ricotta and breadcrumbs; gnudi (gnocchi-like ricotta dumplings) on a bed of bolognaise; or rainbow trout with piccata sauce. For dessert, there’s baked cheesecake topped with strawberry and a decadent four-chocolate torte.
The considered wine list features around 70 bottles of mostly Italian, Australian and French wines, which are organised by grape variety, body and flavour. There’s also a dozen or so by the glass, ranging from a muscular chardonnay by Margaret River’s Voyager Estate to a fruit-driven sangiovese cabernet by King Valley’s Dal Zotto. You’ll also find a tight list of cocktails, beers on tap and a selection of spirits.
Ronnie’s sits somewhere between an elegant Italian joint in NYC and a casual trattoria in Bologna. White tablecloths play off against red-brick feature walls and a white marble bar to create a classy but relaxed atmosphere, with old-school family photos decorating the walls. The Mitchell & Eades-designed space offers seating at snug indoor tables, in private booths, up at the marble bar overlooking the kitchen, or outside on the all-seasons terrace. There’s also a private dining room, complete with parquetry floors, for special occasions. Though any occasion is sure to feel special here.
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