Chris Lucas, the man behind Flinders Lane juggernaut Chin Chin, opens his new Italian restaurant Baby today on the site where the award-winning Pearl used to sit on Church Street in Richmond.

Drawing on the work of design studio Projects of Imagination, Lucas has created a space that is both contemporary and earthy. The walls, dressed with heavy canvas, create a rusticity balanced with a modern, minimal edge, bright red neons included.

Executive chef Domenic Pipicelli – a Melbourne boy who has worked at Becco in the city and South Yarra’s Mama Baba – is leading a team including head chef Nicola Dusi and head pizza chef Daniele Colombo, who are both new to Melbourne, direct from Italy.

The team has created a seasonal menu of 20 or more pizzas, with an emphasis on quality ingredients such as homemade mozzarella. The Fior di Zucca (topped with fior di latte, zucchini flowers, anchovies, chilli and fresh mint) is a stand out, as is the Funghi (a mix of buffalo taleggio, fior di latte, mushrooms and thyme). There are meat dishes such as rabbit braised in white wine and saucy meatballs on polenta, and there are plenty of pasta dishes too, accompanied with sides of buffalo mozzarella, peas, mint, proscuitto and shaved pecorino. It’s all pretty cheesy, in a good way.

This Baby also gets up early and breakfast has an Italian emphasis too, with dishes like pecorino and rocket scrambled eggs with shaved spicy pancetta, baked eggs ‘Amatriciana’ and panettone with maple mascarpone and macerated strawberries.

Open all day from 7am until late and with a no-bookings policy, it’ll be interesting to see if this new Baby will command the queues Chin Chin does in a more suburban locale. That said, from what we’ve seen so far, we think Lucas’s new venture is a sure thing.

This week we are inviting you and five friends to dine at Chris Lucas's Baby. Be the first to try the Italian Chin Chin. But best of all, we’ll pay the bill and you'll get to skip the queues (we know there will be some). To go in the draw sign up here.

631–633 Church Street, Richmond
(03) 9421 4599

Daily 7am–11pm