A neighbourhood bar with ex-Lulu La Delizia head chef, Justin Scarvaci, at the helm, Vinotto has established itself in Swanbourne’s shopping strip as a firm favourite for locals and visitors alike. An ever-evolving, seasonal menu with nods to the Mediterranean keeps things fresh, while a considered wine list homes in on small producers across Australia and Europe. Venue Manager and Sommelier Caitlin Johnston gave us the lowdown.   

What’s the vision behind Vinotto?   Vinotto is a neighbourhood wine bar with a strong focus on delivering good snacks and good wine.

Tell us about the space. We’re a small bar with an even smaller kitchen, think sunny Mediterranean vibes. The fit-out and design of the space is minimalist, with earthy tones and textures throughout. Our large terrazzo counter gives guests the option to sit up at the bar or take a seat at one of our smaller spots. We grow a lot of our kitchen produce on site in our garden courtyard, which provides a nice aspect for those seated upstairs.

How would you describe the approach you’ve taken with the food and the wine list? For both the food and wine, our focus is on small producers who are making thoughtful, well-executed products. The wine list is composed of roughly half Australian producers, with the other half being made up of our favourites from Italy, Greece, France, Germany and Austria. We are always looking for what is the most delicious in the glass, which means you may discover a few grapes or regions you’re not yet familiar with. 

What’s a good dish for diners to kick off?  Our current favourite is definitely the Fremantle herring on toast. Lightly cured and smoked herring, with salted radish, pine nuts and currants on a sourdough crostini. The perfect two bites with a glass of something sparkling to start!

Say I’m dining with friends, what’s a great dish for sharing? We do small plates here, so the whole menu is perfect to share. We like to have a selection of snacks on the table at the same time, and just graze and sip. The crowd favourite right now is the Messina-style fish cooked with lots of saffron, olives and tomatoes. It’s savoury, very moreish and definitely delicious with a glass of gruner veltliner. 

And if I like tasty food but don’t like eating animals?  The Mediterranean cuisine we serve lends itself perfectly to more vegetable-led dishes. The peperonata and truffle potatoes with cheese sauce are some vegetarian standouts at the moment. We’re always cooking with the seasons, so as spring comes along expect to see more fresh vegetable dishes with the best the season has to offer. 

How about something sweet to finish? Our favourite way to finish any night is with a bitter-sweet amaro! Both Braulio and Swan Valley Wines Amaro are definitely always on high rotation. We always have a sweet gem on the menu that offers a nod to our head chef’s Sicilian heritage, currently taking form as a silky chocolate semifreddo with crisp hazelnut praline.

And finally, what experience do you want guests to take away from Vinotto? Good wine, good food and good times!

Vinotto, 2/137 Claremont Crescent, Swanbourne @vinottobar

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