Arno Italian Espresso Bar
A two-person table, eight stools and a coffee machine tucked under a flight of stairs. It’s small, simple and not commonplace in Melbourne’s coffee scene, but that’s exactly the way owner Léon Dalle Nogare envisioned Arno Espresso. He wanted to recreate a traditional Italian espresso bar with good, friendly service, consistently great coffee and no frills.
This experience, combined with a panino-bar crawl around Florence, is what inspired him to go solo. The name references his trip: the Arno River runs through the centre of Florence.
The small space has a sleek, crisp design that uses black, white and dark green. Customers spill out onto the Cromwell Street footpath.
The menu is geared toward takeaway meals: a variety of panini and toasties; salads; a Bircher muesli; and sweet pastries and cakes. In keeping with the theme the sourdough and ciabatta is described by Dalle Nogare as “strictly Italian”. It is from Essendon bakery, Pane e Pizzico. There’s also a selection of its bombolini and cornetti.
Try the Chicken Cotoletta panini – it’s filled with chicken schnitzel and Italian-style coleslaw. You’ll have to get in early, though – they fly out the door.