By Vivienne Pearson
I thought di Vino meant ‘of wine’ and it turns out that it also means divine. No need to argue between the two; they both fit perfectly for di Vino Byron Bay.
Di Vino is the project of four young men: Bruno Conti, who heralds from Genoa; Achille Martino, who grew up in Rome; and locals Joe McMahon and Felix McKenzie.
When I visit, Bruno and Achille have a good-natured discussion about whether di Vino is best described as a ‘wine bar with a refined kitchen’ or a ‘trattoria with good wine’. Again, the specifics are moot, as both are true. My visit confirmed the food to be top notch, the wine menu fascinating to explore, and the atmosphere relaxed and friendly.
You can sample the food along with a drink, thanks to di Vino’s introducing ‘aperitivo’; the Italian version of happy hour and free bar nuts. Currently, along with a half-priced drink over 4–6pm, you can try the focaccia (made onsite daily) and the saffron arancini (seriously delicious). In the coming week, the range of aperitivo offerings will be increased.
The drinks menu combines the best of Italy and Australia. ‘The wine menu is 80 per cent Italian and 20 per cent Australian,’ says Achille. Don’t be put off if the varietals or regions are unfamiliar. The staff enjoy the process of hearing what you like in a wine and recommending something from the menu that will be similar but different. ‘If you don’t like what we suggest, you can return it and try something else,’ says Achille.
You’ll likely also appreciate the staff’s friendly help with the food menu. I was introduced to culatello (‘fancy prosciutto’, according to Achille) and padron peppers (‘one out of every 10 is very spicy so I recommend a gentle bite before you commit,’ advises Bruno – what a Russian Roulette-style challenge to chili lovers!)
Combinations within the antipasto menu are unusual and exquisite. My standout was a dish of tomino cheese (a soft cheese similar to camembert) wrapped in pancetta, served with blueberries and almonds. You better get in quickly to try that one, as the menu changes every three–four weeks.
Bruno, who also runs Terra Catering, and Achille are keen that I mention their suppliers, as they want to share the message that their food would not be possible without the high-quality produce from the likes of Bay Seafood, Byron Bay Mozarella, Salumi Australia, and Trevor Mead Quality Meats.
With good reviews in abundance and bookings now essential on weekends, it might now be your turn to check out di Vino.
di Vino, 2 Fletcher St (beach end, corner Bay Lane), Byron Bay. Open 7 days from 5pm. Bookings encouraged (and essential on weekends) by phone 6680 8424 or online at divinobyron.com. Socials: @divinobyron