For five years Lygon Street rooftop bar Johnny’s Green Room – with its sweeping views across Carlton’s treetops and the city skyline – has been the ideal summer destination. Now the vacay vibes continue year-round thanks to a reboot that includes a semi-retractable roof.

The bar, which sits above King & Godfree, reopened last week with a wider refit by Dion Hall (Music Room, Her Bar). The designer has refreshed the space with earthy materials like Douglas fir timber, terracotta tiles and natural zinc, an upgraded bar and kitchen, new deck chairs, and vintage lighting from Italy. (There are even new custom white waiter jackets for the bar staff.)

“The vision was for a warmer and more inviting venue, and of course to transport people to a summer vacation in Italy,” co-owner Jamie Valmorbida tells Broadsheet. “Inspiration was taken from Italian hotel bars, as well as our favourite venues from Rome to the Amalfi Coast.”

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Keeping with the theme is a new menu by Karen Martini, who joined the team as culinary director following the sudden closure of her ACMI restaurant Hero (she’s since also joined St Kilda’s new Saint George as culinary director.

The celebrity chef and author has assembled a selection of snacky and shareable Italian plates like crumbed zucchini fritters with whipped cod roe and Ortiz anchovies, creamy stracciatella with fresh green melon and cucumber, tuna crudo with fried curry leaves and shaved bottarga, and calamari spiedini fritti (semolina-crumbed, fried and skewered calamari) swiped through Italian tartare. Plus, a fancy spin on Neapolitan ice-cream – in the form of stracciatella soft serve topped with warm chocolate sauce, strawberry granita and black pepper – made in collaboration with Pidapipo downstairs.

For Martini, the opportunity to cook simple but full-flavoured Italian food again in Carlton – “in an iconic site steeped in family history and on one of the best rooftops in town” – was “too good to resist”.

She’s kept the venue’s signature pizza menu, now featuring scorched pies made with 48-hour-fermented dough and toppings ranging from a customary margherita to a bianco e verde with asparagus, confit garlic, parmesan, stracchino, lemon, marjoram, pine nuts and fresh stracciatella.

As for the drinks, the team’s enlisted Matt Bax (of Bar Americano fame) to design a list of “spritzy and smashable” Italian cocktails – among them, an Amalfi-inspired Limoncello Margarita (with house-made mescal-based limoncello), a Hugo Spritz (with hand-picked spearmint from the King & Godfree kitchen garden) and a fizzy Sgroppino (with Pidapipo lemon sorbet, vodka and prosecco), plus non-alcoholic versions. Meanwhile, the wine list – by sommelier George McCullough – leans on savoury, textural and fragrant whites from Italy, including drops from cult producer Cantina Giardino, plus chilled reds from local emerging winemakers.

The venue’s live music program – curated by Hope St Radio – will now be a year-round affair, too. Expect sets by Wax’o Paradiso, In2stellar, Danny Hotep and more – amplified by a newly installed, state-of-the-art KV2 Audio sound system.

Johnny’s Green Room
Level 2/293–297 Lygon Street, Carlton

Sun to Thu 12pm–11pm
Fri & Sat 12pm–12am