Orto Kitchen and Garden

Amnesty Series

Please note: This blog post is being published as part of my Amnesty Series – where I am catching up on reporting about all the wonderful eating I’ve been doing over the last 3 months.  Apologies for being so woefully behind and thanks for your patience.  If you decide to visit Orto Kitchen & Garden, please bear in mind that some items may no longer be available due to the seasonality of menus.

There was a lot of support for Orto on Twitter when it opened back in August…  now I’m not sure if it was a blogger being sponsored to tweet about it… but it was enough to pique my interest and rev up the rarely used Toyota with my trusty hubby Andrew – and head over to Hawthorn.


This location on Burwood Road had been home to a number of previous culinary incarnations – Canvas and Chester White being the most recent.  I had never been to either of those restaurants – so I’m not sure if there’s been a radical change to the interior. However, I have to say it appears to be lovely and fresh with some gorgeous quirky touches, and is a very comfortable spot to have a relaxing dinner.  The inside area is complemented by a huge, well appointed deck with an outside cinema screen.  Part of the appeal of Orto is this deck – which promises to be a great summer refuge with a great vibe.  They also do a bit of the open air cinema thing – which helps to make the most of the outdoor space.

Orto Interior

The pass


Hand stretched pizza bread with mozzarella, basil & tomato

This was absolutely beautiful – the hot fresh, fresh, fresh bread topped with a melange of feisty flavours.  There is absolutely nothing like fresh bread out of the oven!!

Sausage & lentils

Cotechino with lentils

This dish wasn’t too bad – the cotechino was quite flavoursome.  I’m not the biggest fan of lentils – but together the dish worked and I suspect it’s a bit of a classic Italian pairing.  Nothing to blow your socks off, but okay.


Dry aged Hopkins River Sirloin, peperonata, polenta cake

The steak was fine – again, not the best steak in the world but there was nothing wrong with it.  The polenta cake accompaniment was a little weird and I note that they’ve removed it from the most recent incarnation of the menu.  It seemed out of place on the dish.

Lamb pappardelle

Pasta special – Pappardelle with slow braised lamb with peas

I actually really enjoyed my pappardelle – the lamb was fall-apart-tender and the peas added a lovely fresh, sweet element to the dish.  The pasta had the right level of bite to it.  A very nice dish overall.

Italian doughnuts

Bombolini: Hot Italian doughnuts with nutella

We were sitting next to a lady and her son when these came out for them… they do look tempting don’t they. And she did a very good job of selling them!  I always love it when fellow diners are doing the spruiking!!  The doughnuts came out piping hot – rolled in liberal amounts of cinnamon and sugar, and off to the side a warm pot of nutella!!  Personally, I was happy enough to just eat the doughnuts – finding that the nutella just took it a little over the edge for me.  However, I’m pretty sure there are others out there who would happily eat my share of the nutella as well as my own.

Overall, Orto is a really pleasant Italian family restaurant in the ‘burbs.  I definitely wouldn’t consider it a destination dining option and I’m all the twittering might have been a bit over-enthusiastic – but it no doubt serves the families and couples of Hawthorn with good, solid Italian fare at semi-reasonable prices.  The winning formula here is some really nice ambience and friendly, laid-back (yet attentive) front of house staff who look after you.

The bill

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