It is the age old dilemma when having friends or family from interstate or overseas visit you in Melbourne. How do I show my visitors Victoria’s stunning Yarra Valley winery scene without spending a fortune?
A long time favourite of mine, Zonzo Estate is the answer to this dilemma. Zonzo offers ‘unfussy’ Italian food that utilizes local produce (some of their herbs are grown on site) and allows you to have the Yarra Valley experience without the extreme price tag and severely small meal portions. In fact, for $45 a head, you can opt to have Zonzo’s traditional sharing menu and indulge in a huge feast of antipasto, salads and pizza.
Set amongst green, rolling hills and rows upon rows of vines, this homely, rustic restaurant and cellar door is the perfect spot to enjoy a long leisurely lunch; whether it is inside on wooden tables by a roaring fire looking through the huge glass windows, or seated in the sunshine outside overlooking the vines.
Whilst it is the smell of woodfired pizzas that will immediately ignite the senses as you walk towards the restaurant from the large carpark, there are plenty of interesting Italian starters available as well such as juicy marinated Tiger Prawns, arancini balls and some divine crumbed artichoke hearts that will impress both vegetarians and carnivores alike. If not jumping straight onto the impressive pizza menu, the Schiacchiata flatbread is a great option to start, topped with olives, Gorgonzola and herbs.
It is undeniable that Zonzo does pizza very, very well and it is likely that for most, the pizza will be the star of the show. The Napoletana pizza, topped with tomato, mozzarella, Sicilian green olives, basil and anchovies comes highly recommended. Quality toppings on a perfectly crispy, woodfired base make it very hard to go past these as a main, but I urge you to adopt the Italian way of sharing so that you do not miss out on the incredible Spanner Crab Ravioli with lemon, butter and thyme; perfectly cooked al dente pasta stuffed with juicy crab in a decadent butter sauce.
A top tip is to spend another hour or so sipping on some wine (the Train Trak Rose is heavenly), have a walk over the grassy area to the vines, take some happy snaps until you have room for dessert as the orange infused panna cotta with Cointreau and orange syrup, or strawberry and nutella calzone are not to be missed if you have a sweet tooth.
Accompany this feast with charming wait-staff, chefs who look like they love their job, warm and homely surroundings and (this is the most important bit) dining with someone you cherish and Zonzo provides you with the perfect Yarra Valley day out… without breaking the bank!
Hoping your week is filled with deliciousness,