Is it just me, or is 2016 flying by? I swear we were ringing in the new year just yesterday. I have been meaning to check out Zonzo Estate for months now, and finally had a chance to visit last week with the lovely Jess from JP and Melbs to enjoy a much needed extended lunch break. There’s a familiar energy about Zonzo Estate Restaurant which I liken to a cross-breed between an Australian and Tuscan winery of sorts. Drive down the country road, passed the old railway tracks, and you’ll soon find Zonzo Estate nestled away in the valley of picturesque Yarra Glen.
With one of the best views in the valley, Zonzo Estate is in a picture perfect location within the Train Trak winery, boasting spectacular views of the vines and rolling green hills of the Yarra Valley. The estate is surrounded by 45 acres of vines, a place where lush green lawns are met with more sunburnt pastures – a result of a hot summer in the valley.
On a summer’s day, a leisurely lunch is best enjoyed on the outdoor deck, overlooking the magnificent valley, while the indoor dining room feels a touch more formal. Panoramic floor to ceiling glass allows diners to enjoy the gorgeous views in the comfort of their own dining room. I can’t wait to come back in winter, and enjoy a glass of red in front of their roaring fireplace. Zonzo Estate has a warm and welcoming feel, which is complemented by the attentive staff who seem eager to please and more than happy to explain the menu.
The menu is modern Italian and crafted by Head Chef Rod Micallef . You can expect rustic woodfired pizzas and a delicious range of antipasto platters. A sharing menu is available for $45 per person which is great mix of authentic Italian dishes. Think antipasto plates laden with cured meats, imported Italian cheese, gourmet wood fired pizzas and fresh salads. And for a winery based restaurant, it’s really great value!
The wine list is well thought out, featuring their own label, Train Trak wines and a good mix of local and international wines. Zonzo Estate are currently nurturing 45 acres of vines for vintages by two of the Yarra Valley’s best winemakers, Kate Goodman and Caroline Mooney.
We started with a large antipasto plate laden with cured meats, cheese, eggplant, zucchini, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and olives.
And followed with a range of rustic plates of antipasto including ridiculously moreish crumbed artichoke hearts (carciofi fritti) which were finished with vincotto and rosemary. Tiger prawns (gamberi piccanti) were juice and plump, with a taste bud tingling marinade of chilli, garlic and parsley. Golden balls of arancini oozed generously with Arborio rice and mozzarella, I would have loved a touch more seasoning but they had a lovely texture.
Their woodfired pizzas definitely deserve their great reputation. The pizza con prosciutto had a thin, crispy base and was topped generously with pomodoro, mozzarella, baby spinach, prosciutto crudo, mini roma tomatoes and parmesan.
Pasta is also a highlight on the main menu. There’s a tummy warming homemade gnocchi with burnt butter and a gorgeous calzone folded pastry, Meat lovers can opt for the slow cooked lamb shank or the melt in your mouth style beef cheeks which are slow cooked for six hours.
A large plate of handmade ravioli was stuffed with spanner crab, lemon, butter and thyme. It was delicious, but I felt the lemon overpowered the dish a little bit and the citrus needed to be a bit more balanced.
After a short break, we consulted with our second stomach and squeezed in some dessert. And lucky we did. Their signature torta al cioccolato mandorle was devilishly rich and moist, but I would have loved some more cream to balance it a litte.While a orange infused panna cotta was a highlight, with a perfect wobble served with a cointreau and orange syrup.
It’s all about the little things about Zonzo which really make a difference to their marketing, from the funky Z and O imprints on the wine glasses to the personalised napkins. One of their staff members tells us that they plan to print Zonzo at the bottom of the glass, to give a wine stained effect of Zonzo on the table.
I can’t wait to return to try more of their delicious menu and another long, lazy lunch.
Zonzo Estate is open for lunch Wednesday through Sunday and dinner Friday to Sunday.
ZONZO ESTATE RESTAURANT
957 Healesville – Yarra Glen Road, Yarra Glen, Victoria, 3775