A chic, intimate enoteca that’s as classically minded as it is forward-thinking.
Cacao-infused tagliatelle? With venison ragù? Sounds crazy, but at La Madonna Nera it really works, the al dente pasta’s earthy sweetness proving just the right foil for the meat’s gamy twang. What takes this snug, low-lit and timelessly understated wine bar well past paint-by-numbers territory is a willingness to playfully bend rules.
Just look at the pounded sheet of poached cuttlefish draped over more of the tender mollusc, peas and squid ink stirred through intense reduced tomato sauce. Or the tiramisù – extra-heavy on mascarpone cream and provocatively spiked with aniseed liqueur. Even if a bitter coffee vinaigrette throws a dish of pickled and roasted carrots off piste, there’s enough respect for Italian tradition and charismatic hospitality to bring it all into balance. Think well-chosen salumi and cheese, along with unmissable tuna-stuffed peppers in oil made to owner Fiona Di Lanzo’s family recipe.
What takes this snug, low-lit and timelessly understated wine bar well past paint-by-numbers territory is a willingness to playfully bend rules.
And then there’s the vino, marrying the best of New and Old Worlds across 70-odd bottles, pitting a straight-shooting vermentino blend from the Adelaide Hills right up against chewy Calabrian skin-contact greco. Finish on an amaro from what might be the city’s best selection, and step out into the night the better for it.