Paul Vernuccio knows a thing or two about running an eatery. In the past ten years he’s built up and operated six of them. Parkstone is the latest addition, following Augustus Gloop Gelatery in Pascoe Vale and Sunbury, Cheeky Monkey, Rubber Duck, and George Jones.
Vernuccio has moved on from the latter three, now devoting his time to inviting corner cafe Parkstone. “I wanted my booths 1.6 [metres long, because] I know that fits six people,” Vernuccio says. “[And] the bar design, how there’s a gap there – allows the barista to take out coffees quite easily.” Ercol Originals bar stools were also Vernuccio’s choice, for their comfort and style, but the remainder of the fit-out was up to Robert Pisaniello of Eon Design. The brief? Light and comfortable. The corner location means Parkstone is flooded with natural light; it splashes across blonde-timber booth seating and the muted mint-green steel panelling that frames the space. There’s more seating outside.
Inside, a gigantic greenery wall is the centrepiece. It doubles as entertainment for kids; the team often finds forgotten toys stashed among the leaves.
A dedicated children’s menu was important for Vernuccio too, to accommodate the students from the primary school across the road. It includes Nutella and strawberry chia pudding, buttermilk pancakes with ice-cream and maple syrup, and eggs on toast. Colouring-in sheets and pencils are dutifully distributed to every child on arrival, too.
Dogs are also well looked after. Manager Ashlee Edwards doubles as the dedicated doggy chef, whipping up a batch of (free) dog biscuits every few days. “[Dogs] know [that] they get a biscuit here … [when] they’re walking, they pull the customer over the road,” Vernuccio says, laughing.
The menu, by Brazilian-born chef Leandro Mello, balances healthy options with “the bad boys.” A light option is the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (even though it’s a mouthful), a nourish bowl packed with seasonal greens, avocado, roasted sweet potato, quinoa, poached egg, feta labneh, and spicy sesame butter sauce. Barbeque jackfruit tacos (with coleslaw, charred corn, coriander, burnt tomato salsa and guacamole) and carrot-cake pancakes cater for those with dietary requirements, among many other dishes that can be made gluten-free or vegan.
For something a little heartier, choose the hot Buffalo-chicken sandwich; crispy chicken thighs slathered in hot Buffalo sauce, stacked with bacon, tangy sauerkraut, lettuce and gouda, encased in a toasted focaccia roll. Polenta bites with black garlic aioli work perfectly as a side.
Brunches can also be made boozy with Aperol spritzes and Bloody Marys, and for a different kind of pick-me-up, there’s coffee available inside, or at a pass-through window outside.