Restaurant Reviews

Alta Trattoria: Restaurant review

A Piedmontese trattoria promises to become a Fitzroy favourite with impressive dishes and wines to match.
Alta Trattoria Vitello Tonnato dish

Vitello Tonnato, Alta Trattoria

274 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, Vic

Let’s start – as you should – with the focaccia. Not only is Alta’s version excellent with its high olive oil content, thin style, moist middle and crunchy, slightly fried exterior, but it announces this new Fitzroy diner’s intentions immediately.

This is a trattoria with its heart in and focus on Italy’s north-west, Piedmont in particular. No tricks or “modern takes” here, just skilled, refined cooking from co-owner and chef McKay Wilday (ex-Copenhagen’s Geranium) accompanied by a deep and thoroughly impressive wine list that follows the Piedmontese lead: wine from that region, then from Italy more generally with some good French stuff thrown in and, a nod to Alta’s location, some smart Australian labels.


Given Melbourne’s current wine bar craze, it might be tempting to hitch Alta’s wagon to that train. But such is the quality of the cooking and the rigorous and knowledgeable adherence to the trattoria model that favouring wine over food here would be doing both a disservice. The standard of service and the attention to detail from glassware to ingredients are also elevated for what is ostensibly a cosy, plainly decorated back street local, not so surprising when the three other co-owners are Carlo Grossi, sommelier James Tait and restaurant manager Luke Drum.

Alta’s menu will change with the seasons but, if available, do not miss the acciughe al verde. Wilday has added pickled mussels and a thrilling mussel emulsion to the mix of crunchy radish and white anchovies. Brilliant. You’ll also want to order the barbagiuan di zucca, “fried ravioli” filled with pumpkin, cannellini beans and marjoram and finished with a blizzard of grated pecorino.

Tarjin with rabbit ragù

There’s an impressive vitello tonnato that comes with fried capers, plus textbook pasta, including silky-thin, egg-yolky tajarin tossed with an excellent farmed rabbit ragù that includes offal and olives and classic ravioli del plin, filled with braised cockerel and served with a sparkling cockerel broth and some pickled pine mushrooms.

The roast potato side, the spuds par-boiled in salt water and white wine vinegar before roasting, is a small crisp masterpiece with the ability to haunt your dreams.

The Italian mantra of great ingredients simply cooked is strong in this one. Add that wine list and you may just have found a new favourite.

Alta Trattoria

274 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, Vic

Chef: McKay Wilday

Opening hours: Lunch Sat, Dinner Tues-Sat

Price guide: $$$

Bookings: Recommended.

Verdict: A finely tuned ode to the food and wine of north-west Italy.

Alta Trattoria: Restaurant review
274 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, Vic
McKay Wilday
Price Guide
Opening Hours
Lunch Sat, Dinner Tues-Sat

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