PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
There are now three generations of the Bortolotto family involved in Cecconi's, who have all contributed in making it one of the benchmark Italian restaurants in Melbourne. Its grasp on the dining scene is sturdy enough to break the rules which state that great restaurants cannot be found in basements – not in Melbourne, anyway. It's a wonderfully open place, divided into a wine bar and a more formal restaurant, with a vast open kitchen in between. The dining room embodies a warm cafe latte colour scheme and the upholstered chairs are perfect for settling in for a lingering gourmet experience.
Combining tradition and innovation, the Italian fare is stunning to say the least. Each dish depends on the quality of the ingredients, to which is added exceptional cooking knowledge and skills. To start, think of something as simple as prosciutto di Parma or a salad Caprese made from properly ripe tomatoes, excellent buffalo mozzarella and punchy basil. The pasta dishes are terrific, and for main courses, tempting as the menu is, listen carefully to the day's specials. You might have slow-braised lamb, or a tuna steak served with red pepper and caponata vegetables. The wine list is terrific and so are the waiters who nimbly attend to every whim or query. For a quick or casual meal, head for the wine bar which has its own menu and some delights by the glass. There's also a tiny terrace area perfect for catching some air while your vino breathes.