Melbourne, VIC

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Photography by Jess Prescott

Upon entering Brunetti – an institution of Carlton now finding a new home in the heart of the CBD –  you’re greeted by an array of colourful cakes and sweet treats, with a coffee counter housed in the middle of the venue.

Brunetti are a venue that understands what they’re traditionally known for and are making it easily available to customers. Utilizing a massive space, the restaurant is seemingly broken into two segments, each with its own unique style of dining. As large as it is, it feels as intimate as any suburban cafe once you’re in your seat. It buzzes with activity, but you won’t struggle to find a table.

Towards the rear you’ll find the Campari Bar, boasting a list of imported wines and beers – along with an impressive selection of cocktails and spritzes. The bar area serves as a respite for those who’ve had a tough day at work or are preparing for a big night out on the town.

Simon, the chef, explains that the food is rooted in tradition but with a city edge. They’re going for something a little different – simple and tasty with some modern tweaks, which feel more savoury rather than the sweet that they’re known for.

If you’re looking for a share plate, the Antipasto Platter is ideal, featuring an incredibly presented array of cheeses and meats accompanied by tomatoes and pickled veg.
The selection of salty and sweet tastes on offer is complete with arancini balls – filled with a subtle chilli flavour that creeps up on you, the puffy delights are served atop a bed of whipped ricotta.

Brunetti offer a variety of classic dishes for mains, albeit with their own modern twists. The pizza is a wonderfully soft homemade base topped with a rich Napoli sauce that won’t overpower you by being packed with toppings. The crust is puffed to perfection with a crisp exterior that gives way to a delicious core topped with the freshest ingredients.

For those after a more substantial meal, the pasta menu is the place to look. The carbonara comes piled high, garnished generously with fluffy parmesan and some crispy diced bacon – which adds a strong, salty flavour to the rich sauce.

While still offering the amazing cakes and coffee they’re primarily known for, Brunetti are doing something a little different in Flinders Lane, making it an ideal destination for quality Italian with a modern twist.