Dalmatino serves regional Dalmatian food (from the coast of Croatia) with a modern twist in Port Melbourne. We visited early on a Friday night and there were four other tables. Service was prompt and helpful. There are Croatian spirits (we chose plum brandy “Šljivovica” and green walnut liqueur “Orahovac”), beer and wine on offer. The meals are recognisable as Croatian influenced but will also cater for anyone who enjoys Mediterranean cuisine. There are meals which are unique to the region: Pašticada (beef cheek stew with prunes and apples) and Black cuttlefish (cooked in its own ink). Dalmatian cooking for me represents fish and seafood. The Gregada, a Dalmatian fish stew with fish fillets, fish on the bone, mussels, pippies, sliced baby chat pototoes, onions and parsley was absolutely beautiful; it was fresh and intensely favoured by well-cooked onions. We also had Čevape (skinless sausages typically made with pork but could include a mixture of pork, beef or lamb depending on the region) which you will find on any menu in Croatia served with ajvar (you can definitely tell that the eggplant and capsicum relish was made in the restaurant, as it was cooked just enough for the flavours to combine with a hint of chilli) and kajmak (an adaption of sour cream with what tasted like feta cheese). Whilst the čevape do not appear on the main menu, they will provide you with this when asked. My suggestion is that you skip the kajmak as it doesn’t truly taste as a home cultured sour cream, so that you have a full serving of ajvar because it really is excellent (and I should know as I make my own with home grown vegetables). What is unusual is that the cabbage salad provided is made from red cabbage rather than the typical white cabbage and the chips, which is really an appreciated Aussie extra. Desserts will typically include crepes “Palačinke” and if you are lucky, dumplings “knedle” which are typically a firmer texture than gnocchi and filled with plums though any seasonal fruit can be used. Here they served dumplings filled with preserved sour cherries, which appear to have been poached then deep fried rather than toasted in breadcrumbs, and served with a sour cherry puree, crisp crumb “soil” and a white chocolate parfait. The texture of the dumplings is much lighter than the traditional home cooked version and is quite posh. It was absolutely lovely. We are repeat visitors to this restaurant and we still enjoy the meals. You can read a sample copy of the chef and co-owner’s “Dalmatia” cook book, which showcases food from that region and local specialities. If interested you can buy the book for $50 and have it personally signed, which I took up. The restaurant is a short walk from tram stops at North Port or Graham St, or if you a lucky you find a vacant parking spot at Bay St.
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