There’s a light that appears to float above the bar at Tetto Di Carolina, a first-floor cocktail spot that's just opened above its sibling, Italian diner Bar Carolina. It’s a long strip of orange, green and white, and when you follow it with your eyes, its reflection extends to the terrace, where on warm nights the retractable roof is peeled back, providing a glimpse of the stars above. At the moment, though, we’ll settle for views of Toorak Road below through generous, red-steel-framed windows.
That six-metre bar is made from walnut, with handmade walnut stools to perch on, and white terrazzo tiles underfoot. At the other end of the room are plush, silvery-grey leather booths and banksia-esque light fittings. The space is by designer Chris Connell (Agostino, Duke’s Coffee Roasters, and Bar Carolina), and draws influence from cocktail bars in Italy and Europe. Tetto – which means “roof” in Italian – is elegant and refined, but comfortable enough to relax in, too.
Joe Mammone (Il Baccaro, Bar Carolina, and the recently-closed Sarti) co-owns the lofty cocktail bar with business partners James Sutherland and singer-songwriter Joey Dee, who has plans to host live jazz and acoustic acts on the terrace.
To drink, the American Beauty is part Americano, part Spritz, and uses Campari-like Select Aperitivo, Maidenii vermouth, strawberry-jasmine syrup and prosecco. Espresso Martini fans will find something to love in the more grown-up Cafe Decadente – described on the menu as “warming, indulgent, caffeinated”, it’s made with Amaro Montenegro, white-chocolate cream, coffee and nutmeg.
The extensive wine list is mostly Italian, with a few French and local additions. Champagne is a feature. Mammone says he never intended to pour wine at Tetto, originally wanting to focus on cocktails. But he concedes the bar team were right to insist. He’s also fond of whisky, so you’ll find a solid selection of scotch, American bourbon and rye behind the bar, too.
Another derailed plan? The food. The original thinking was that people could eat at Bar Carolina, but when ex-Grossi Florentino head chef Matteo Tine joined the team, that plan changed.
Tine’s approach is in line with Mammone’s other spots: traditional Italian with a few unusual riffs.
“I’m not a traditionalist, but I do respect where I came from. And I had a strict Italian family, but I’ve always been a bit cheeky,” Mammone says. “There’s cheekiness in Carolina, there’s cheekiness in Il Bacaro, there’s cheekiness up here.”
Scallop carpaccio comes with honey-fermented yuzu, coral-like squid-ink tapioca crisps and bitter dandelion. Duck-liver parfait is encased in cannoli pastry, served with a bright-pink Spritz relish that’s tart, bitter and sweet all at once.
Mammone is fond of a burger – specifically the KFC Zinger – and he wanted a homage on the menu. The IFC (Italian Fried Chicken) is buttermilk-brined fried chicken, pickles, fennel coleslaw and a lip-tingling spike of chilli on a brioche bun. Follow it up with the whipped ceci (chickpea) with raw and pickled whole vegetables and pistachios, a great way to cool the palate.
Tetto Di Carolina
Level 1/48 Toorak Road, South Yarra
Fri & Sat 2pm–1am
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on August 8, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.