The shopfront at 330 Lygon Street, Carlton boasts an array of Italian smallgoods. In one window, bell-like cheeses harnessed by ropes, loom above the weighty wheels of the ‘King of Italian Cheeses’ Parmigiano-Reggiano, while a Berkel meat slicer features in the other.
We can thank Tony Nicolini, of DOC Group (DOC Carlton, DOC Espresso and DOC Mornington) for this little slice of Italian heaven. At DOC Delicatessen, you’ll find the Italian imports Nicolini has been serving up in his restaurants for years, along with Australian-grown foodstuffs he personally recommends.
To start you’ll be greeted with deli manager Eros’s welcoming smile. From Piedmont in northern Italy, he’s making sure the right amount of dolce e salato line the shelves and pack the fridges.
When we stopped by, Eros talked us through several of the products on show, including the GiaCometta crema gia duja (hazelnut chocolate cream), Il Trullo preserved porcini mushrooms from Puglia in the south and the farina di riso (rice flours) and Leonessa dried pasta from Naples.
Imported Italian wines and beers nab a spot too. Nicolini has opted for Italian-made brews, like Menbrea and Patruni e Sutta and the micro-brewed Lurisia.
Once you’ve worked the shelves, spotting the finest olive oils and 100-year-old balsamic vinegar, take your time at the stunning marble counter. There, you’ll meet Giovanni, from the Eolian Islands. He’ll be your go-to for cheeses – think mozzarella, pecorino – and meats – frome Wagyu beef bresaola to prosciutto – with 25 years of experience working in delis around Carlton.
In the prep area, you’ll see cheeses blocked and wrapped and chefs making fresh pasta to plate-up at DOC Espresso (or for you to buy fresh and cook at home).
Upstairs there’s a work and dining space where Nicolini plans to hold culinary master classes and private dinners. It’s a beautifully renovated second floor, with restored fireplaces and exposed-beams.
From here, the view of Melbourne’s beloved, bustling Lygon Street below is a reminder that you are in the true heart of Carlton.