If you are a pasta traditionalist, there’s plenty here that won’t upset your sensibilities. You want a classic cacio e pepe, carbonara or a lasagne (albeit one made with wagyu ragù)? Alt nails these dishes, displaying pasta-making skills that prove Han to be a thorough student of the craft. But some of the greatest joys (and the reason for its name) arrive when the alternative comes into play.
Best in show is a superb spinach pappardelle that’s tossed with nori butter, salmon roe, soy sauce and sesame oil and – the kicker – superb little discs of perfectly cooked abalone as tender and silky as the pasta. Then there’s the fusilloni tossed with a lamb shank ragù that’s lifted not only by the slight heat of an XO tomato sauce but also the surprising and successful addition of mint.
Don’t ignore the snacks. They highlight Han’s impressive finesse and skill whether you’re talking the excellent pastrami and shallot vinaigrette accompanying the oysters, the pretty lobster tart with a hint of sweetness via saffron mayo and smoked crème fraiche or the superbly citrusy cured Hiromasa kingfish, saved from excess fruitiness by the addition of celery and a fermented kumquat sauce that brings a subtle but thrilling level of horseradish-like heat and flavour to the equation.
A short, sharp drinks list that leans natural in terms of wine while offering a sturdy range of no-alcohol options and solid cocktails, underlines Alt’s modern Melbourne credentials. Similarly on-theme desserts see ingredients like coconut and mango expressed in classical forms of granita and gelato. Fusion? Sign me up.
Alt Pasta Bar
30 Niagara Lane, Melbourne VIC
Chef: Mino Han
Opening Hours: Dinner Tues-Sat
Price guide: $$
Verdict: A love letter to pasta, traditional and reimagined.