Fitzrovia takes its name from a historically bohemian neighbourhood in central London and also happens to be the Italian expression for Fitzroy Street. Owners Paul Jewson (a Melbourne-born chef) and Marco Pugnaloni (an Italian) spent two decades in the English capital.
Jewson often found himself cooking with imported ingredients there, even while working at top-tier venues such as Soho House and River Cafe. At Fitzrovia, boxes of fruit and vegetables line the stairs and herbs peep out from the light fittings, trumpeting an opposing philosophy. Back-of-house, chefs draw on prime Victorian produce such as Jonesy’s non-homogenised milk, Milawa free-range chicken and South Gippsland lamb.
That local thinking extends to the drinks, where 2 Brothers and Mornington Peninsula Brewery ales are listed beside wines from the Adelaide Hills and Yarra Valley. The exception to the rule are the wines from Italy – in deference to Pugnaloni’s heritage. On balmy nights they’re best enjoyed on the tiled porch, watching St Kilda’s colourful characters stroll by.
Breakfast strikes the balance between fancy and comforting. The Toasted Door Stop Sandwich is jammed with Istra bacon, smoked mozzarella and pear relish. Crème brûlée French toast comes with banana, whipped mascarpone and toasted pecans.
Lunch and dinner say more of Jewson's prior experience, featuring classic European proteins such as chicken saltimbocca or duck leg paired with rich sauces. But alongside the French and Italian techniques and flavours, there are welcome hints of Asia and the Middle East. Don’t leave without trying the umami-rich polenta chips with truffle oil and parmesan.