We Italians who have been in Melbourne for years know its exact location: a hundred metres from St Brigid’s Church, where every one of us has been at least once for a baptism, confirmation, wedding or funeral.
It is located opposite the San Remo Ballroom, and institution of the Italian community in Melbourne.
Established in 1963, the art deco-inspired reception venue in Nicholson Street, Carlton North, resounded with the beats of the famous Italian bands of the era and bore witness to many meetings, which often turned into first kisses, love stories, marriages and families.
Years later, the following generations would celebrate their debutants and Year 12 formals at the same venue, creating their own memories.
Anybody who has spent an evening at the San Remo Ballroom would have passed by Burzumi Motors, which was located opposite the venue, on the corner of Nicholson and York Streets, where Carlton becomes North Fitzroy.
As of 2019, the former mechanics has been home to all-day Italian eatery Cafe Lagotto.
The cafe was brought to life by Katie and Michael McCormack, siblings and owners of Milieu Hospitality, who also opened Collingwood wine bar Congress in 2017, and Richmond restaurant Future Future in 2018.
Located on the ground floor of an apartment building, the eatery boasts an elegant and modern atmosphere.
Designed by Flack Studio, the venue features burgundy and pink hues, a terrazzo floor and a luxurious marble counter.
Cafe Lagotto was designed to be a place where residents could go for breakfast and coffee in the morning and stop in for a drink on their way home from work in the evening.
The drinks menu features Mac Forbes Tasty Locals EB37 Vermouth from the Yarra Valley, Cocchi Rosso Americano from Piedmont, a Limoncello Spritz and a Casa Bianca Prosecco from Veneto, to name a few.
Those wishing to stay for something to eat can sample the culinary creations of head chef Matteo Fulchiati, formerly from Osteria Ilaria, who has made the menu more contemporary and suitable for sharing, paying particular attention to light bites and vegetarian dishes.
Several of the entrees on the menu point to the eatery’s contemporary, refined style: kingfish crudo, nectarine, fennel pollen and currant; prosciutto di Parma, apricots and squacquerone toast; and stracciatella, figs, baby fennel and acacia honey.
Chef Fulchiati hails from Parma, Italy’s food capital, meaning that the restaurant’s pasta is guaranteed to be on point.
The tagliolini with lemon and prawns is a tasty and fragrant dish, while the gnocchetti with cacio e pepe are soft, white clouds, coated with a rich, cheesy sauce.
Paccheri with lamb ragù and parmesan is another dish on offer, as well as cestini di ricotta with zucchini flowers, saffron butter and buckwheat.
Protein-based dishes on the menu include scotch fillet with herb butter and puntarelle, and fish of the day with roe and sea herbs.
To finish on a sweet note, diners can try the yoghurt panna cotta with peaches and honeycomb, tiramisù, gelato or cheese board.
With Fulchiati in the kitchen and an experienced team at his side, Cafe Lagotto is sure to become yet another institution on that famed stretch in North Fitzroy that we all know and love.