James Cooper visits the second site for a specialist Melbourne brand that have married meatballs and wine.
Melbourne loves meatballs it seems, and the owners of the city’s Meatball and Wine Bar have recently opened site number two on an unassuming street corner in Richmond.
Unlike its ultra-slick city sister, the Richmond version is more Fitzroy than Flinders Lane – white-washed brick walls, stainless-steel counters and a rustic wine rack climbing all the way to the high ceiling.
A bright neon sign completes the industrial chic look, and a sassy and eclectic crowd hint to yet another eatery to add to Richmond’s burgeoning über cool restaurant scene.
We’re greeted with cured meat platters, carpaccio thin, and a sticky Aperol cocktail. An Italian aperitif by the makers of Campari, Aperol has a distinctive bitter orange taste and slightly medicinal quality, a nuance implied by the thermometer stirrer.
Further canapés followed before the arrival of the eponymous meatballs, rich in flavour and nicely dense in structure. Don’t think it’s just traditional fare here though, these guys serve up a whole range of options: pork with pesto, fish with wasabi mayo, chicken with garlic aioli and the melt-in-your-mouth beef and BBQ sauce.
The wine has a major Italian influence, of course, with Victoria’s stronghold of the King Valley featuring heavily.
Another Italian favourite, lemoncello, was mixed with prosecco and lemon sorbet to provide a welcome palate cleanser between courses.
We finished with a baby whoopie mac, an ice cream sandwich with a gooey, ginger biscuit base that evoked memories of licking the pudding spoon.
A decadent end to a great evening at what will surely be Richmond’s next big thing.
Details: The Meatball & Wine Bar; 105 Swan Street, Richmond, Melbourne; (03) 9428 3339 – meatballandwinebar.com.au