At The Bar with Sommelier Matteo Balbo

A South Melbourne neighbourhood pasta and wine bar celebrates the best of Italian cuisine and wines, with a soft spot for biodynamic makers on the list too.

It’s where you’ll find co-owner and sommelier Matteo Balbo, who works at the Park Street Pasta & Wine with his business partners and Italian restaurateur’s Luca Balbo, Head Chef Tommaso Bartoli who taps into his Tuscan heritage on menu, and front of house duo Lino Torre and Andrea Pellegrino.

The intimate dining and bar experience takes you on a culinary journey across 20 regions of Italy, while the wine explores Balbo’s penchant for supporting local and small producers.

“We aim for a dynamic wine list, that constantly changes, with a strong focus on Italian and local wine,” says Matteo Balbo.

“The primary focus is to bring small producers that follow organic and biodynamic farming to the wines, which indeed are the expression of the terroir and its varietal characteristics,” he says.

When it comes to wine pairing, Balbo is always happy to lend a hand.

Right now, on the menu he’s enjoying a ravioli dish.

“It’s made with smoked ricotta and tomato sauce, and garnished with caperberries, mint, and lemon,” says Balbo.

“I recommend pairing it with a glass of Maison Rigal Vin d’Orange, which is an orange wine made from the Gros Maseng grape variety in Cote de Gascon, located in Southwest France.”

But the key is conversation, and Balbo is more than happy to traipse the restaurant and chat with clients.

“I approach diners and enquire about their wine preferences,” he says.

“Then I find a wine that I believe will cater to their liking but also push their comfort zone a little. If our diners can walk away with new knowledge or a new experience, then I have done my job. I love encouraging guests to try new varieties and visit new wineries.”

Matteo Balbo spoke to us for our At The Bar series.


I live in Melbourne and love its culinary heritage which is so vast and different, giving you so many options of high-quality food.


The best dish I ever ate was a broad bean-based risotto at La Credenza, a Michelin-star restaurant on the outskirts of Turin. It included zucchini chips cooked in eel juice, and finished off with some eel ‘fondo bruno’ and soy sauce.


The Alps Wine Bar where I enjoy a glass of orange wine.


Wine will always be the drink that best describes me. It’s versatile, and you can always enjoy a glass of wine before, during and after a meal, in any form, taste and colour. Sitting at a table with a bottle of wine brings people together and takes problems away.


A pint of Guinness and a Betty’s Burger.


Bar Merenda in Daylesford. Their wine selection is simply outstanding, and they have a small menu of snacks made with seasonal ingredients. I trust them to serve me whatever they think should be drunk that day.


A Carema Ferrando Riserva 2008 I drank with my partner in Italy.


A local hero for me is Troy from AttWood Winery up in the Macedon Ranges. He is one of my favourite small local producers so far, and he is really one of a kind.


I would love to go to Tasmania. The food and beverage heritage of whiskey, spirits and wine is so wide for a such a small island; it intrigues me so much.


One of the most underrated and one of my favourite varietals is Gamay. I can’t really do without a nice bottle of Beaujolais. At the moment, there are two of the most important Crus in Beaujolais: Morgon and Fleurie. They’re rich but diverse and complex simultaneously, and they can be drunk anytime and anywhere. We rotate our wines to showcase a wide variety, keeping our wine list short but exciting for our customers.


My favourite region of Italian wines is the Langhe region in Piedmont and I especially love a Barolo and Barbaresco. The Langhe region is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world and the wine speaks for itself. Barolo has been described by the French nobility of Turin and the ruling House of Savoy as “the wine of kings, the kings of wine”.


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