MELBOURNE | The Hardware Club is a contemporary Italian restaurant on Hardware Lane. The restaurant opened at the end of 2019, and despite spending most of its life in locked down Melbourne, has still managed to build a loyal customer base and reputation as one of the city’s go-to Italian restaurants.
Owners and long-time friends Andrea Ceriani (+39 Pizzeria) and chef Nicola Dusi (ex D.O.C. Pizzeria, Baby Pizza) have created a venue that evokes memories of neighbourhood Italian bistros. A cosy vibe, natural materials, and a subdued use of red, green, and white. Service is friendly, knowledgeable, and passionate, and there’s a homely energy about the place.
Nicola’s food highlights the quality of the locally sourced (where possible), seasonal produce, and respects the classics. During the day, it’s a simple, traditional leaning menu that hits all of the right notes. It’s at night, however, that things start to get really interesting.
The cacio & pepe taleggio toastie is Melbourne’s must try toastie that you won’t hear about on Instagram. It’s not piled with ingredients, there’s no rainbow cheese pull. It’s simply a deep-fried sandwich, filled with cacio & pepe, taleggio, and leeks, topped with impossibly thin flutters of grated parmesan. A delight.
The menu is full of things like this that will put a smile on your face. Roasted bone marrow toast with salsa verde, fried capers, and shallots, is an indulgent flavour bomb, while roast beef sirloin “carpaccio” with Valdese Bay leaf rub, drippings mayo, and parmigiano will play tricks with your mind in the best possible way.
Moving on to larger dishes, and the ossobuco ravioli, with saffron butter, and gremolata of garlic-lemon-olive oil, is one of the best pasta dishes you’ll have the pleasure of eating in this city. For fans of spice, spaghetti assassina, charred with “yesterday’s sugo”, and mozzarella, is a must.
On the sweet side, there’s a great tiramisu, ricotta cannoli, and usually something else on the rotating specials menu, along with a few rotating mains. Try the house made limoncello with rum baba to finish things off.
For drinks, it’s a list that primarily focuses on Italian varietals, both familiar and lesser known. Australian and Italian winemakers, many of which are independent, are well represented across the wine list, and there’s always a few really interesting things available by the glass on rotation. There’s also tasty house cocktails, and a few Italian and Australian beers to round things off.
The Hardware Club
Upstairs, 43 Hardware Lane
Mon – Tue: 12:00pm to 3:00pm
Wed – Sat: 12:00pm to 10:00pm