Up a flight of stairs above long-term wood-fired pizza player Woodstock in Fitzroy North, Neighbourhood Wine occupies a site of both individual charm and somewhat dubious history. Before brothers Simon and Matt Denman, and chef Almay Jordaan took possession of the first-floor title that stretches over two shopfronts, it had remained idle for a quarter…
10 William St
An offshoot of Potts Point’s much-loved Fratelli Paradiso, 10 William St shed the skin of modern Australian–Italian dining, with a push away from fried calamari with rocket et al, and delving into a new form of Italian experimentation. Respectful and subtle experimentation, that is. And while Fratelli Paradiso has long stuck to a wine list that shuns the commercial and the overworked, 10 William St has gone somewhat further down the minimal intervention and natural road.
That hopelessly general term ‘Italian cuisine’ is no guiding principle here. The sensibility is broadly Italian, but the interpretation is individual, with the chef of the moment working inside the spirit but doing so in a way that is entirely reflective of their own style. That’s an important factor. While Fratelli Paradiso has never been a chef’s restaurant, one that relies on the reputation of the practitioner on the pans, 10 William St has retained its distinct identity while also framing some of this country’s finest cooking talents.
Housed in a converted terrace house, the restaurant spans two floors. There’s a six-seater bar downstairs and tightly packed brass-fringed tables, with attendant timber bentwood chairs and stools. They’re tight but not cramped quarters, which is all part of the ever-vibrant charm of the place, with walking in the only way to nab a table. Upstairs, there’s a little more space, with larger tables and the capacity to seat a few more diners.
Dan Pepperell (now of Restaurant Hubert and Alberto’s Lounge) launched the kitchen with his tangential slant on the classics, while Trisha Greentree, a Brae alumnus, has now applied her own gloss, knitting into her Filipino heritage, with an integration of Southeast Asian flavours and techniques. These changes have resulted in compellingly different menus (though Pepperell’s pretzel and whipped bottarga is a stayer) at 10 William St, while retaining an essential continuity, which is testament the deep connections and passion of the brothers Paradiso.
The list, which stretches to over 120 listings, with 15 by the glass, plus specials (they like their chalk here, too) is at its heart dynamic, fluid (pardon the pun). Given the hand-crafted nature of most of the bottlings, scarcity is a given and the list is in constant motion.
“10 William St is a place with a real passion for natural wine, however we do not have a set of regulations that our wines must fit within,” says sommelier Oliver Smith. “Rather, we buy from producers and importers we trust and have strong relationships with. The only prerequisite for our list is that a wine is grown organically – this is to recognise the extra effort being put in by farmers who avoid the use of synthetic chemicals to promote soil health. Other than that, we chose the wines we like. It just so happens that the wines we like are made naturally and with a respect for the land.”