There’s a new Italian restaurant in the CBD with the rather unusual name of Woody P. (In case you’re wondering the name has no particular meaning it’s just supposed to be “catchy”). Besides the prime Flinders Lane location (right next door to Chin Chin) Woody P has a top team involved in particular Clinton Camilleri, Healesville Hotel’s chef.
It’s not your typical red sauce Italian place with check tablecloths and bottles of Chianti lined up. Woody P is a modern take on Italian food and its location in a warehouse space with exposed brick walls and a large neon sign hanging along one wall saying: “When in Rome” makes that clear. The official launch isn’t until tonight but I went with my friend Moya for dinner earlier this week and the restaurant was already so busy that there were no tables by 7pm on a Tuesday night. We happily perched at the bar to eat our meal where we could watch bar tender James Tait (formerly Thomas Olive) in action.
There’s lots of food on the menu which goes well with booze, in particular the cubes of pork croquettes crumbed with chorizo ($15). It’s hard not to love a bit of meat on meat action like that.
The best starter was Camilleri’s take on the classic Italian dish of vitello tonnato ($19). Pale pink rounds of veal were tender and topped with dollops of creamy aioli and shards of bresaola. I also enjoyed the simplicity of anchovies on puff pastry ($5): great bar food.
The more substantial dish we ordered to share (on the waiters recommendation) didn’t live up to the standards of the rest of the meal. Slow cooked beef rib ($28) was not the hunk of beef I had imagined, but instead two small pieces of meat. It could have done with more slow cooking and the promised accompaniment of gremolata was thin on the ground.
Camilleri certainly can cook and Woody P has a fun feel to it. It’s the type of place to go with a big group of friends or to duck into before you head out in the city. Woody P isn’t perfect, but hey, what is these days?
Details: Woody P, 121 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD
Damage: Pricey. Our meal for two with one bottle of wine cost $170.