Lately Melbourne has been embracing its Italian roots. Following the Salami Festa was a throng of Italian openings, including Gradi at Crown, Heartattack and Vine in Lygon Street and more recently, Tipo 00 pasta bar in the city. Over on Errol Street, Laura Notarfrancesco already has a weekend waiting list for 5 Lire, pronounced the Italian way, cinque lire.

After a lengthy stint at Brunetti, Notarfrancesco put her marketing degree to work with food and beverage giant, Lion. Sitting in an office wasn’t for her, so she quit. What followed was a three-month culinary education with her father’s family in southern Italy. She returned to Melbourne armed with her auntie’s cooking tips, a new appreciation for produce and the desire to fulfil her dream of opening a cafe.

Aside from representing the five members of the Notarfrancesco family, 5 Lire is Italian slang for a smack, explains Notarfrancesco, whose father helped with the build. His brief was to balance the old with the new, using reclaimed scaffolding from his building company to make the tables and shelving, alongside concrete panels and tiles that highlight the display cabinet heaving with goodies.

The menu, according to Notarfrancesco, is, “Contemporary with an Italian twist”. Breakfast runs all day and the smashed broad beans with 'nduja spreadable salami and buffalo mozzarella on sourghdough is fast becoming a favourite. Fluffy ricotta hotcakes are the perfect vessel for thick vanilla mascarpone, dark chocolate, roasted hazelnuts and a whole poached pear. Come lunch, try the lasagna, or perhaps an antipasto board in anticipation of the liquor license.

Notarfrancesco can’t help but see a similarity between the North Melbourne community and the small Italian villages she visited during her trip. “We want the locals. They come in every day and that’s what I love,” she says.

Keep an eye out for extended opening hours and homey pre-prepared meals.

5 Lire
116 Errol Street, North Melbourne
(03) 9329 2249

Tue to Fri 7am–4pm
Sat & Sun 8am–4pm