TestFor young chef Alex Keene, growing up on his family’s farm made his future as a chef an easy decision. The key to Italian cooking is simplicity and the celebration of produce. At Via Alta, produce is locally sourced with a few imports from Italy, including harder-to-find ingredients such as salami and specialty cheeses.

Keene and Alessandro Pavoni (Ormeggio at The Spit), his mentor and current business partner are behind Via Alta. When Willoughby’s High Street Bistro went up for sale, the duo, along with third partner Bill Drakopoulos (Aqua Dining), snapped it up.

The menu at Via Alta is heavily influenced by Brecia; inspired by specialties of Pavoni’s hometown in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. Notable dishes include, spiedo bresciano, a typical spit roast from Brescia basted in butter, sage and salt for five hours.

For fish, try the baccalà, which in Brescia is simply salted cod. Keene and his team have slightly Australian-ised this dish, creating a salted cod pie. The foundation is laid in mash, followed by house-cured baccalà, baby spinach and topped with the flaky pastry.

For your sweet tooth, the barbajada is a unique interpretation of a Milanese milkshake-style drink, made into a chocolate and espresso-fused mousse, served with hazelnut, vanilla gelato and caramel sauce.

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Updated: March 13th, 2018

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