One of the great pleasures of dining at Italian icon Umberto Espresso Bar, on High Street in Thornbury, is its daily handmade pasta special.

Chalked up on a blackboard in the dining room, the special is likely to lead you astray from menu mainstays like the famous five-hour veal ragu or anchovy-studded orecchiette with broccoli, which, while undeniably delicious, don’t use fresh pasta.

But from next month, the Umberto team – also behind seasonal rooftop bar Gigi and
wine bar Joanie’s Baretto – will be doing a lot more hand-rolling, with the opening of Pastificio Sandro.

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The long-planned pasta shop will be in the original espresso bar site at 822 High Street,
which was most recently home to summer vino pop-up Pezzo. A reno means it’ll be lighter and brighter than you remember (but still charmingly poky), with terrazzo features and white-washed timber cladding throughout.

Regularly rotating pastas will be made every day on a flour-dusted benchtop on full display – then they’ll fill a glass cabinet in front of it. Expect four filled options (like the button-shaped, ravioli-like bottoni) and four unfilled ones (such as a classic hand-cut tagliatelle).

Owner Marco Finanzio has teamed up with long-time Umberto chef Shery Singh on an offering Finanzio says will be more refined and less bound by tradition than Umberto.

“Rather than importing traditional ‘00’ flour from Italy, we’re going with [locally sourced] alternatives like durum semolina, wholemeal grains, chestnut flour,” he says. “And we’ll have a really special gluten-free option; after a lot of work, we’ve cracked the code on how to get it al dente.”

Pasta isn’t all you’ll find here, though. Think of Pastificio Sandro as a fancy Italian grocer and bottle shop; it’ll also be stocked with restaurant-quality pasta sauces and take-home meals (like chicken cacciatore or porchetta), plus interesting lo-fi wines from Italy.

Longer term, the plan is to host chef’s-table pasta dinners for 10 diners at a time.

Pastificio Sandro is due to open at 822 High Street, Thornbury in mid-July.

umberto.com.au