by James Ridenour
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Tucked away at the Fitzroy North end of Brunswick Street away from the trendy shops, bars and cafes of Fitzroy is the sophisticated diners secret that is Matteo’s.

Matteo opened his restaurant over 20 years ago and has been a local northern favourite ever since.  For a very long time now Matteo’s has been my ace in the pocket restaurant, one that most people are unaware of and for that reason I was able to get a table when others restaurants were booked out.  Fortunately for my guests, even though Matteo’s was not as well known as other establishments, they didn’t have to compromise on quality.  Matteo’s is no longer a northern secret and is now being recognised by diners and reviewers alike as one of Melbourne’s finest restaurant.

Matteo’s is located in a Victorian double fronted house not far from Edinburgh Gardens, the Brunswick Street Oval and the Fitzroy North Bowling Club.  The dining room faces Brunswick Street and diners have the pleasure of watching the local foot, road and tram traffic pass by.  Matteo’s location helps it to achieve a lovely neighbourhood atmosphere in what is a sophisticated dining room.  Diners enjoy a room which is plush with textured wallpaper, velvet curtains, damask table linens and Matisse inspired art.  The service is friendly and relaxed and staff give you the impression that you are a welcomed guest.  There are many regular patrons at Matteo’s and you will no doubt notice that the staff know many of them very well.  What I love about the Matteo’s is the classic and elegant dining room is not what one would expect for such a forward and creative fusion menu.

Matteo’s have taken the best of a fine contemporary Australian menu and infused Asian elements to create an offering that is a perfect example of why the Melbourne dining scene is one of the best in the world.   We enjoyed oysters six ways which was one of the best presentations for oysters I have ever seen followed by Chinese-roasted, five-spiced duck breast, wombok cabbage okonomiyaki pancake with confit duck, grilled cucumber and hoi-sin duck sauce.  Our other main was grilled double lamb cutlets, panko-crumbed braised lamb shank, wasabi crushed peas, charred eggplant puree and yuzukosho citrus pepper sauce.  Our side of tatsoi salad with nashi pear & daikon, dried wasabi peas, wasabi mayonnaise was superb and is a standard on the menu so you never will have to go without.  Our waiter suggested a marvellous pinot noir which matched our mains perfectly.  For dessert we enjoyed the simple but elegant slow-roasted Granny Smith apple, creme fraiche custard, toasted gingerbread and miso ice-cream.

If you are looking for a menu that is a bit edgy but still want to enjoy a more traditional fine dining atmosphere Matteo is the ticket.  Perfect for a special occasion or just a wonderful lunch before or after a stroll in Edinburgh Gardens.  Matteo has also started special dinners and classes where guests can get involved, learn something new and enjoy a fine dining experience all at the same time.  Check their website for upcoming events.

Matteo is located at 533 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy North, Tel: 03 9481 1177.  Matteo is also on twitter @MatteoPignatell

Matteo was awarded 2 Chef’s Hats in The Age Good Food Guide 2013

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