If you open up your English-Italian dictionary, you’ll find the word ‘fatto’ is an adjective meaning ‘made’ or ‘done’. But, perhaps not surprisingly, among friends the word describes that feeling one has when they’re stuffed full of food and wine: fatto. “We just liked it; it was punchy and short,” explains Anthony Musarra, executive head chef of the new Southbank cantina that bares the cheeky moniker.

Opened only last year as Trocadero, Fatto Bar & Cantina reimagines the Hamer Hall restaurant as a relaxed Italian eatery. Ultimately, Musarra and his partner Frank van Haandel decided that as a fine-dining venue, Trocadero just wasn’t working. “We were plagued with some heritage problems with the terrace, so it was never a cohesive space,” he admits. “It gave us some opportunities to think about the real needs of this area, hence the change to a more accessible, familiar, fun kind of environment.”

The austere fit-out of the former has been softened by Projects of Imagination, the stylists behind Chin Chin and Golden Fields, who have enlivened the space with bright-white tiles, lightboxes and a judicious use of neon.

Likewise, the menu has been entirely overhauled by Musarra and his head chef, Nick Bennett (formerly of Cicconi’s). Concentrating on ‘punchy Italian share plates,’ Fatto features dishes like beetroot, baked ricotta, pancetta, orange and pistachio salad; or ravioli with roasted broccoli, kale, guanciale and walnuts.

Plus, Mussara was adamant Fatto’s be a ‘pizza-free zone.’ “To me, it’s very much just about vibrant, punchy flavours that work,” he says. “I’m half-Sicilian, so it’s very much gutsy in its flavours. It’s exactly what I’d cook at home.”

The wine list is equally unpretentious, featuring local and imported Italian varietals from $35 a bottle. Cocktails, of course, make heavy use of Aperol and Campari. “But we’ve got everything if anybody wants it,” says Musarra.

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For his part, the chef believes that this time, the name Fatto is going to stick: “When you have a child, you name it, and six months later you can’t imagine it being called anything else.”

Fatto Bar & Cantina
River Terrace, Hamer Hall Arts Centre Melbourne
100 St Kilda Road, Melbourne
(03) 8698 8800

Daily 11am to late