Woody P, Melbourne

Spinach and ricotta gnudi with tomato and ricotta salata

Spinach and ricotta gnudi with tomato and ricotta salata

Our restaurant critics' picks of the latest and best eats around the country right now: Woody P, Melbourne.

Woody P has been so carefully groomed that its impact gets a little blurred by all the clean-lined good taste. The former nightclub in Flinders Lane has lofty ceilings, exposed brick walls and softly shimmering floors (timber and black stone tiles). Planter plots and rippled, coloured glass serve as room dividers, plus there's a marble-topped bar, an open kitchen with a glass cabinet for salumi and cheese and some cute Futurismo-channelling graphic touches, such as a white neon sign with a white painted "shadow". So far, so meticulous. But there's more going on here than look-book bingo, starting with the bar where James Tait presides over great cocktail and aperitvi lists, and continuing to the kitchen, headed by Clinton Camilleri (ex-Lake House, Eleonore's), with its smart mod Mediterranean bent. You could come here just for the pizze - lightly charred, just chewy, with nicely seasoned bases and simple toppings (it's a dead giveaway when they can get a Margherita so right) - but good things happen on the main list, too, from smaller dishes such as veal and tuna aïoli teamed with wagyu bresaola, and a regularly changing list of pasta that might include good spinach and ricotta gnudi with tomato and ricotta salata (pictured). With the likes of steak and roast duck also listed, there's nothing to scare the horses but the quality of the cooking and ingredients, not to mention the comfort-food factor, which makes it a good idea to add Woody to your city contacts.

Woody P, open daily noon to late; 121 Flinders La, Melbourne, Vic, (03) 9654 5000

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