For about five years, Joey Kellock, the man behind Melbourne’s mysterious dial-for-delivery lasagne hotline, 1800 Lasagne, ran the business between other gigs, borrowing his mates’ restaurant kitchens to prep.
Kellock would batch-bake bechamel-y bolognaise and vego lasagnes, announce delivery suburbs for the week on Instagram, take orders, then drop them off in ’91 Holden Barina adorned with 1800-Lasagne decals.
Now the Fitzroy local, who has Italian heritage, is set to open a kitchen and bar of his own. The Barina is already parked out front.
“It’s slightly terrifying, but also exciting,” Kellock says. “It’s a pretty amazing space – it’s an old pizza joint on High Street in Thornbury.”
Right now the arch-shaped windows of the brick shopfront are covered with newspaper, so you can’t see the original terrazzo floors, red-brick archways and wood-panelling inside, but all will be revealed in about a month.
“I’m not making plans, because plans are stupid,” Kellock says. “That’s where you get into trouble.”
Kellock was hunting for a hole-in-the-wall venue with a small bar (“so people could come and drink wine and keep me company while I made lasagne”) when he found the former La Casareccia space. In addition to the bar there’ll be a large dining room, undercover outdoor seating all the way down one side of the building, and a courtyard out the back.
“I don’t want to get drawn into having a full menu. The whole thing about doing lasagne and doing it well is that we keep it pretty simple [and] focus on doing every part of it as best as we can,” he says. “If there are too many elements my head will explode and I won’t be able to cope.”
There’s no official name yet, but bar-slash-lasagne-joint may well end up being called 1800 Lasagne.
“I haven’t even really decided yet to be honest,” Kellock says. “I’m literally making it up as I go along.
“As far as what we’re gonna serve, at the moment it’s just gonna be lasagne. And maybe a salad, maybe a dessert, maybe a little starter.”
The American-oak-topped brick bar – already installed in the front room – will stock Italian and Australian wines, including a few local minimal-intervention bottles, and serve a couple of cocktails such as a Negroni and a dirty Martini.
“It’s gonna be sick,” Kellock says. “For me it’s like, fantastic drinks and not a hell of a lot of them. Fantastic food, hardly any of it. Fantastic whatever else – just keep it fucking focused.
“Music, plants, friends, lasagne. What else do you need, you know?”
1800 Lasagne is set to open at 653 High Street, Thornbury in the next six weeks – roughly.