La Madonna Nera
Fiona Di Lanzo grew up among a family of Italian restaurateurs whose lives centred around food, wine and excellent service. Her parents ran the now-closed Northbridge stalwart Sorrento Restaurant, and she long dreamt of running her own service-focused trattoria. The former architect brought that dream to life in 2019 with La Madonna Nera, a small Italian wine bar and dining room focused on contemporary Italian food, mostly Italian wines and exceptional service.
The Italian influence is clear across the menu. Yet head chef Nicolò Renzi (Tiny’s) gives it an inventive twist (and introduces new dishes every six weeks). You might find plump octopus on panelle (Sicilian-style chickpea fritters) with ‘nduja mayonnaise; oozing stracciatella topped with fig and crispy capers; or beef tartare with pickled green peppercorn, clam and tomato powder. Take your pick from the share plates, or let the chef decide with the magnà e zitt menu, which loosely translates to “shut up and eat”.
You won’t be able to shut up about the sizeable, mostly Italian wine list, which features more than 100 bottles organised by grape variety, body and flavour. There’s also a handful of bottles from Western Australian producers for good measure. On the menu, you might find Western Australian producers such as Vino Volta, Range Life and South by South West flanked by Italian producers such as Foradori, Radikon and Frank Cornelissen. Or you can choose from a rotating selection of around 12 wines by the glass. Cocktails are also an option (including a Roman Negroni made using the Italian bathtub vermouth Del Professore Rosso), as well as almost 50 Italian digestifs.
Di Lanzo’s influence isn’t limited to the food and drinks menu, it’s also imbued in the fit-out. Behind the shopfront on the Mount Hawthorn strip, she’s designed a moody dining room replete with terracotta terrazzo tables, vintage curios and a wall of wine bottles arranged by region, so you can feel like you’re in a corner of Italy in the heart of Mount Hawthorn.
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