Wandering down Flinders Lane will expose you to some of the best eateries in Melbourne. These places are tucked away on one of Melbourne’s most famous laneways, that is quickly becoming the epicentre for niche eating.
Amongst the many different genres of restaurants, wine bars in particular are cropping up and making a bold statement in the dining scene. Amidst the current food and wine scene, The Meatball and Wine Bar is an establishment that’s becoming more prominent. With three different locations that each have their own vibe, The Meatball and Wine Bar has a unique offering of strictly Italian wines and a brief, but definitely satisfying menu with meatballs as the star of the show.
Swan Street, Smith Street, and Flinders Lane are all graced by The Meatball and Wine Bar’s presence; three very different neighbourhoods each hosting a unique crowd. Feast Melbourne meet up with Meatballs owner, Matteo Bruno, at the Smith Street location for an interview and an introduction into the world of Italian wines and meatballs.
What has been your journey through the Melbourne food and wine scene been like? Where did you start?
I’m originally from Perth and have been writing and producing film and television for the past ten years and recently have focussed more on food television. The last food show I did was a series about meat, which was shot in many locations around the world.
I’m the youngest of four boys in an Italian family so all we do is eat. I’ve always been passionate about food and being exposed to such great food was a big influence in starting The Meatball and Wine Bar.
When I started The Meatball and Wine Bar (in 2012) it was probably one of the first of its kind (apart from pizza restaurants of course) offering of a very singular, focused product. I live on Flinders Lane, and I wanted to find a spot that I could stroll up to and have a nice glass of wine in a comfortable environment. The Meatball and Wine Bar, was born.
As an importer and owner of a wine bar what kind of influence do you want to have on the wine culture in Melbourne?
What is good in Melbourne is that there are a lot of good operators and my restaurants are all surrounded by such great establishments, so for me, it’s about educating an already knowledgeable audience about new and interesting varieties of wine. I’m not trying to be different. These (Italian) wines are generally suited to the food. I’m aimed at offering what will pair best.
What is it about Italian wines that draws you and why have you chosen to house exclusively Italian wines at The Meatball and Wine Bar?
My mum is from the Veneto (venetian) region and my dad is from Asti. The wine list originally was very heavy on those two regions. The flavour combinations of the meatballs are all Italian derivatives as well.
What I like about Italian wines is that they aren’t as big and rich as Australia or French wines so they tend to work with most cuisines, especially those we’re offering at the restaurants. These include Prosecco, which is a wine I’m focussing on at the moment. I import around thirty different wines, but only a few are available at The Meatball and Wine Bar.
Meatballs seems to be playing with both American and Italian influences.
Meatballs for me is definitely Italian. If there’s anything American about it, it’s our sliders, and that we’ve focused on something specific.