When French Twist departed from The Barracks in Petrie Terrace, TJ and Kim Peabody of NKB Group fame (Nickel Kitchen & Bar, Nantucket Kitchen & Bar), jumped at the opportunity to realise their long-held vision of an authentic Italian restaurant housed in a beautiful heritage-listed space. Nativo Kitchen & Bar sits inside a rustic tenancy next to Los Villanos Mexican Kitchen, and makes the most of the locale’s existing aesthetic. A striking mural of the Italian countryside complements the venue’s arcadian touches – chiefly the black and white tiled floors and weathered walls – while a brand new kitchen and bar element has been installed to ensure Nativo’s menu of fare is top notch.
We don’t mean to generalise, but it’s safe to say that Italians know how to eat. The proof is in the pudding (or more accurately in the pizza and pasta) at Nativo Kitchen & Bar, with executive chef Chris Sell creating menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner reminiscent of classic, old-school Italian fare but with a modern spin. The colazione (breakfast) menu is unique in that is boasts favourites such as granola and bacon and eggs, but also an early morning take on an antipasti board. As the day progresses, diners can pick and choose from starters, pizza, pasta, mains and sides, but Nativo Kitchen & Bar earns its stripes with its stellar scallopine selection – something largely unseen around town. Other stand-out dishes include the salivation-worthy, seared Green Mountain veal of the vitello tonnato, the mushroom risotto with porcini mushrooms imported from Italy and the insalata caprese featuring hand-spun burrata cheese from Melbourne. Everything is ‘cotto a puntino’ (cooked to perfection), but that’s not all – TJ has drawn upon his extensive experience in the wine industry to bring together a beverage list that encompasses some of Italy’s best wine regions, backed up ably by a selection of beer, spirits and cocktails.
Nativo Kitchen & Bar is more than welcoming to business meetings and large groups. Self-contained outdoor tents are installed with their own heaters and speakers, allowing for intimate gatherings. The venue’s herb gardens are harvested for use in the kitchen (which is open later on game days), while sweet teeth can also grab a treat from the counter for the road. The coming months will see the NKB Group open Burnt Ends at The Barracks, with beef already dry ageing in anticipation for the launch.
For more information on Nativo Kitchen & Bar, click on over to the Stumble Guide.