It’s been three years since Chris Wright, Miles Brooks and Jonathan Reisacher opened their ’70s-inspired Collingwood wine bar, Gum. The trio was waiting for the right time to open a Mediterranean-leaning food venue, and when the Turkish restaurant next door – once a popular taxi driver hangout – became available, everything fell into place.

The Continental joins an ever-expanding wave of sandwich delis around Melbourne, but here Spanish ingredients are the focus.

“We’re huge fans of the Mediterranean, Spanish food and the culture around it,” Wright tells Broadsheet. “We hope that we’re carving out a little territory of our own.”

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The menu is kept tight with just seven sandwiches, all made on fluffy focaccia from Brunswick’s Iris the Bakery. Staples include the Continental Cold Cut, tightly packed with jamon or salami from Casa Iberica, a thick smear of fluffy ricotta cheese and hot honey, and a salted beef sanga with manchego and roja sauce. There’s also a ham, cheese and tomato made with marbled pork-neck ham, mostarda and pickled green tomatoes from the Queen Vic Market.

But the real standouts are less conventional. The Continental Classic is filled with salted anchovies and egg, while the deli’s most popular sandwich features white anchovies, ricotta, capers and a pesto-like verde sauce.

There are also three hearty lunch plates – including one with cold-cuts, one with smoked trout and whipped ricotta, and a vegetarian option with eggplant, artichoke, caperberries and whipped butter – coffee-flavoured Basque cheesecake, and mascarpone-stuffed figs topped with pistachios. Plus, summery Euro-style drinks such as Club Maté, San Pellegrino and Sanbitter; espresso and filter coffee; and smallgoods to go, including tinned scallops, sardines and anchovies.

Everything about the space is fun. The bench space, equipment and tiles from the Turkish restaurant have been repurposed, and bright yellow walls and paintings depicting fruit, wine and fisherman add a Mediterranean summer feel. At the back, you can play a game of pool while you drink an espresso and listen to ’60s surf music, Zambian rock and everything in between.

There’s no indoor seating, but get there early to nab a sunny outdoor table. Better yet, you can take your order to Gum during opening hours and enjoy an aperitivo with your sandwich.

The Continental
171–173 Johnston Street, Collingwood

Hours
Tue to Sun 8am–3pm

theconti.net
@thecontinentalmelbourne