Orto Kitchen & Garden
Enjoy an Italian summer without leaving Melbourne
Hawthorn finally has the restaurant it deserves. Meet Orto Kitchen & Garden, a place where wholesome Italian fare is made with quality, simple ingredients. Head past the pot plant garden and the suspended ladders to the main dining area, where the red and white checkered ceiling creates an intimate atmosphere. Details such as the Italian enamel tiles above the bar and the blue and white tea towels in place of serviettes make all the difference. Jackets hang from carpeted columns inside, while gumboots sprouting greenery hang outside.
Formerly Chester White, Orto boasts an impressive deck garden with a BBQ rotisserie, lemon tree and giant crates of herbs. Kitchen staff dash outside for fresh ingredients under the watch of Head Chef Luigi Buono (ex Café e Cuccina and Enoteca Vino, and Bond Street Wine Bar founder). Buono has based the menu on his childhood memories of his Grandfather’s lemon farm in Sorrento, Italy.
Start with golden arancini with smoked mozzarella, peas and tomato; fluffy hand-stretched pizza bread with chunks of mozzarella, tomato and basil; or zucchini flowers filled with herbed ricotta, tomato coulis and saba. Families can share thin-based pizzas, while pasta dishes and hearty mains are also available. You’ll be stuffed regardless of what you order; yet somehow, that second stomach won’t be able to turn down hot Italian doughnuts with Nutella.
The wine list has an obvious Italian influence, but sommelier Hazel Benson-Dawe (ex Union Dining, Hellenic Republic) is happy to match your BYO bottle to a dish. Not a vino lover? There’s imported beer, cider and cocktails such as the ‘Six over Six’: Amaretto and Amaro Montenegro, served neat.
“The beautiful thing about Orto is finding that big open space in Hawthorn where you can actually sit down, have a drink and relax and enjoy the sun. There are not too many place like that in this area,” says owner George Sykiotis of Made Establishment.
This summer, Orto will be the place to be south of the river. Now all we need is a tan.
Location: 302 Burwood Rd, Hawthorn
Open: Mon-Thu 5pm-late | Fri-Sun 12pm-late
Phone: (03) 9819 2200