Flinders Lane, probably the tastiest street in the Melbourne CBD, just got tastier. Gone are the dimly-lit, late-night shenanigans of the former Fashion Lounge nightclub. In moves the rather more delicious Woody P, along with a good dose of daylight. Hey, anything that means a lessening, or even complete avoidance, of the lines at neighbouring places like Supernormal, the Meatball and Wine Bar or Chin Chin gets our vote!
So who is Woody P? He’s a bit of a mystery actually (the name isn’t a personifying nod to wood-fired pizza as we may have suspected). But we do know the new Melbourne restaurant’s owners Pierre Semaan and Robert Rae have nabbed venue manager Brent Scales from Stokehouse and lured head chef Clinton Camilleri into the city to create the buzz-y eatery.
Clint has cooked for respected and awarded regional restaurants like Eleonore’s Restaurant in the Yarra Valley, Royal George Hotel in Kyneton, Lake House in Daylesford and, most recently, the Healesville Hotel. The food at Woody P is more casual than what he has produced professionally in the past. “I don’t really do traditional Italian,” says Clint of his modern menu which looks more broadly out across the Mediterranean. There are familiar mains on offer such as a septet of essential pizzas (go for the hot favourite, the San Daniele prosciutto pizza) and pastas like warming rabbit gnocchi and truffled tortellini. However, dishes at Woody P are made adventurous with lesser utilised ingredients. Let your tastebuds explore the spreadable pork sausage ‘nduja’, buckwheat polenta or ‘gianduja’ choc hazelnut spread come dessert.
A hearty feast is always welcome. But we do prefer to scoff the ‘Piccolo’ snacks over clinking glasses of Aperol spritz and plenty of chatter. Woody P’s version of Vitello Tonnato (theirs is veal, tuna aioli, wagyu bresaola and pickled onion) already has a following. The pork cheek croquettes, coated in chorizo crumbs and daubed with apple aioli, are golden little parcels of tender vs. crunchy goodness set to satisfy picky carnivores. You may want to order two or more serves of these if you’ve got greedy mates dining with you. And you should know that Woody P is serving up the best beetroot-cured kingfish we’ve sampled in recent memory.
This all comes in a rather attractive package. Interior designers Eades and Bergman have put together an of-the-moment feeling using exposed brick, tiled surfaces, pale timbers and leafy greens. The look is complemented by accents that straddle the old and new worlds (as the menu tends to do). Jars of pickled veg, tomato sauces and a Rome-inspired mural offset industrial lighting and a neon ‘when in rome’ sign. Once the sun returns to Melbourne, we can dine al fresco here too!
Take note: the Woody P team are still toying with exactly what their downstairs basement space will be transformed into. So stay tuned for something like a relaxed cocktail and wine bar come next summer.
Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White