Opening Bar Carolina took a little longer than expected.
“There were walls and ceilings caving in on us.”
Thankfully, Mammone and his team – which includes designer Chris Connell and engineer Michael Amore – escaped unscathed. And the resulting Toorak Road fit-out was worth the effort. This former Carousel Ice Cream store has transformed into a little slice of Venice, with terrazzo floors out front and textural floorboards out back, handmade leadlights in an azure tint, and custom-made steelwork by Amore.
“Chris and I have worked really hard over the last six months to come up with something that was a bit cutting edge,” says Mammone. “We wanted a European modern feel … and something a little bit different to everyone else.”
Mammone imported a woodfire Josper oven from Spain to give his French neighbours a run for their money. “France Soir serve a great steak, so we wanted to see what we could do as a point of difference,” Mammone says.
Head chef Paolo Masciopinto gives most of the mains a blast in the Josper, such as the wild barramundi encrusted in salt and herbs, which comes wrapped in a little parcel that steams it in its own juice. A 700-gram rib-eye, aged for 60 days, is served simply with a scoop of seeded mustard.
If you’re not feeling meaty, pasta’s rolled out in-house. Mammone recommends the tagliolino con crostacei, long flat ribbons of noodles with Moreton Bay bugs, porcini mushrooms and dried chilli on top. The most photogenic dish, however, is a perfect sphere of tiramisu – seemingly beamed in from the future – full of coffee, savoiardi, chocolate and mascarpone.
You could also just linger over a plateful of aged prosciutto and stracciatella, with a bottle of fiano.
“Come in and have a salumi board and a glass of wine in the front section,” suggests Mammone. “We wanted something where people could come in and have a big plate of pasta, for all different occasions, not just a special night.”
In any case, you don’t have to worry about the ceiling. Mammone expects Bar Carolina to be here a while. “There was a lot of engineering. It’s probably been over-engineered now. We’ve built it so it can stand for the next 50 years.”
44 Toorak Road, South Yarra
(03) 9820 9774
Mon to Tues 5.30pm–10pm
Wed to Sun 11.30am–10pm