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Al Dente Enoteca

  • Restaurants
  • Carlton
  1. A plate of squid ink anelli and other assorted dishes.
    Photograph: Al Dente
  2. Pane de casa in a wooden box with a side dish of culture butter and aceto balsamico.
    Photograph: Al Dente
  3. A dish of dry-aged Victorian duck breast parmentier with a glass of red wine.
    Photograph: Al Dente

Time Out says

Standing out in a a neighbourhood brimming with beloved Italian restaurants, Al Dente brings an unexpected and exciting new experience to the table

Like many of us during the COVID lockdowns, Italian-born chef Andre Vignalli tried to make lemon juice from a suddenly sour situation. He launched his own pasta delivery service, Al Dente, which quickly spread in popularity around Melbourne and has since evolved into the upscale modern restaurant it is today – Al Dente Enoteca.

Alongside his best friend and fellow chef Davide Bonadima, Vignalli first opened the restaurant's doors in early 2021 as a sleek Italian fine diner. The most recent chapter sees the duo’s other offering Al Dente Sapori (which is next door) blended into the fold to create a unified menu across both venues on Nicholson Street – now one.

No longer just a degustation offering, Al Dente’s new and more inclusive a la carte menu aims to make refined contemporary Italian cuisine less fussy, although no less special.

“Approachable dining that focuses on our Italian traditions whilst still highlighting local Australian produce, and serving food that we love to cook, share and eat, is what our customers want,” says Andrea Vignali. 

Vignalli and Bonadima’s dishes change with the seasons to focus on local quality produce and regionally inspired Italian flavours. Think house-baked pane with cultured butter and an impressively rare aged balsamic vinegar reduction, panzerotti pomodoro with mozzarella and basil (the most epic take on a pizza pocket you’ll ever try) and juicy golden-fried olives stuffed with meat for starters. 

Highlights to follow include smoked beef tartare with kipfler potatoes, mustard and capers, pappardelle with boar ragu, smoked daikon, candied walnuts and dark chocolate (yes, you read that right), and the crowd favourite since Al Dente’s inception – the tortellini cacio e pepe. The desserts are just as fantastical, with creations like lait e miel (milk and honey) and chocolate, hazelnut, coffee and truffle, playing unique riffs on authentic Italian flavours.

Stop by for a midweek lunch or dinner, or stock the pantry with high-quality local Australian and imported Italian ingredients including handmade pasta and authentic sauces from the adjoining sapori. 

Can't get enough? Here's our ultimate guide to Melbourne's best Italian restaurants. If it's just a slice of saucy 'za you're after, then start with our list of the city's best pizza joints.


Lauren Dinse
Written by
Lauren Dinse


161-163 Nicholson Street
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