Umberto Espresso Bar
After 10 years on High Street, Thornbury’s Umberto Espresso Bar moved into a 100-year-old former shoe store just 100 metres up the road.
The laid-back Italian spot got a lot of its charm from its snug scale, but owner Marco Finanzio assures us he’s concerned less with the bells and whistles of modern design, and more with replicating the feel of the OG Umberto.
The only major difference? Umberto 2.0 seats 200 (compared to its predecessor’s 40), spread across several rooms and nooks. On street level, two huge windows flank the entrance, beyond which there's dark-wood panelling and and plenty of familiar fixtures.
On the first floor are two private dining areas, one with a terrazzo-tiled balcony overlooking High Street. Above that, Gigi Rooftop offers simple and satisfying snacks, and unbeatable views across Thornbury and Coburg at golden hour.
Back downstairs the menu is compact and beautifully executed, with pasta dishes that rival any nonna’s (such as the broccoli and chilli penne). Specials of the day are chalked up on the walls. Make a note: they are "special". When a dish is sold out for the night, it’s gone.
The hearty home fare is complemented by a tidy list of Italian and Australian wines, and of course, beers. If you're keen to kick on, Finanzio's bar, Joanie's Baretto is a few doors up. It's named after his Australian-born mother.
A recipe from Umberto is featured in The Broadsheet Italian Cookbook. Buy your copy at shop.broadsheet.com.au.
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