Without the Melbourne Spring Fashion Week, there was little reason to explore City Square. Majority of the shops are hardly visible from Swanston Street and the corner Starbucks with its factory-standard food and coffee was little attraction. Hidden in this strip beneath the Westin Melbourne is an unassuming food and wine gem.
La Vita Buona is a cucina, bar and wine shop rolled into one. The modest entrance reveals a contemporary Melbourne spin on a chateau wine cellar, complete with red bricks, wine racks, a fireplace, and nooks and crannies. The main attraction is the encyclopaedia of old and new world reds and whites supported by a simple menu of antipasti, cheeses and Italian-inspired mains.
La Vita Buona has joined the City of Melbourne in a delicious event that showcases the abundant local culinary creativity in celebration of Victoria's proud food history and the State Library of Victoria's Gusto! Exhibition, transforming Lionel's Melbourne into an gastronomic adventure.
I ordered the Chermoula-coated Western Victorian lamb cutlets organised for Look.Stop.Taste. It was accompanied by a glass of 2011 Wanted Man 'The Reward' Shiraz at AUD18. I wasn't expecting much from the kitchen given the focus was the wines but I was pleasantly surprised. The lamb cutlets were deliciously pink to the cut, and moist to the bite. A definite winner in my books alone or coupled with the Shiraz. It was one cutlet more succulent than what I had at The Little Press. It seems that good drink with good fare is the philosophy at La Vita Buona and I'm returning for more.
The atmosphere is unhurried, the background music is leisurely and service is helpful and attentive. It is a welcoming and homely, European-Melbourne styled place to enjoy a bottle of wine and snack with friends away from the bustle of Swanston Street. I can imagine the crowds enjoying a slice of Melbourne's old bar culture at La Vita Buona as the sun sets on the city.