The shopfront at 330 Lygon Street, Carlton now boasts an array of Italian smallgoods. In one window, bell-like cheeses harnessed by ropes, loom above the weighty wheels of the ‘King of Italian Cheeses’ Parmigiano-Reggiano, while a Berkel meat slicer features in the other.
We can thank Tony Nicolini, of DOC Group (DOC Carlton, Carlton Espresso and DOC Mornington) for this little slice of Italian heaven. At DOC Delicatessen, you’ll find the Italian imports Nicolini has been serving up in his restaurants for years, along with Australian-grown foodstuffs he personally recommends.
“My motivation for the space is simple: I want to share the high-quality and artisan Italian imports and local, seasonal produce I love with Melbourne,” Nicolini says.
The illustrious materials lining the premises—Pietra Grigia marble, hand-treated, recycled timbers and the polished concrete floor—provide a stylish cradle for produce that speaks volumes on its own (albeit after translation).
To start you’ll be greeted with deli manager Eros’s welcoming smile. From Piedmont in northern Italy, he’s making sure the right amount of dolce e salato line the shelves and pack the fridges.
When we stopped by, Eros talked us through several of the products on show, including the GiaCometta crema gia duja (hazelnut chocolate cream), gelatina birra (a craft-beer jelly from the Marche Region in central Italy by the Adriatic Sea), Il Trullo preserved porcini mushrooms from Puglia in the south and the farina di riso (rice flours) and Leonessa dried pasta from Naples.
Imported Italian wines and beers nab a spot too. Though many Italian breweries have fallen to major players, like Becks and Heineken, you won’t find these here. Nicolini has opted for Italian-made brews, like Menbrea and Patruni e Sutta and the micro-brewed Lurisia.
Once you’ve worked the shelves, spotting the finest olive oils and 100-year-old balsamic vinegar, take your time at the stunning marble counter. There, you’ll meet Giovanni, from the Eolian Islands. He’ll be your go-to for cheeses and meats, with 25 years of experience working in delis around Carlton.
To begin there’s a mozzarella bar, where springy, white balls of the cheese made from buffalo’s milk bath patiently in salted water. Pecorino, an Italian hard-pressed cheese made from ewe’s milk, is also one of their specialties.
Resting behind the counter is selection of incredible cured meats – Wagyu beef bresaola and prosciutto, Spanish pata negra, Serrano ham and more.
In the prep area, you’ll see cheeses blocked and wrapped and chefs making fresh pasta to plate-up at Carlton Espresso (or for you to buy fresh and cook at home).
Upstairs there’s a work and dining space where Nicolini plans to hold culinary master classes and private dinners. It’s a beautifully renovated second floor, with restored fireplaces and exposed-beams.
From here, the view of Melbourne’s beloved, bustling Lygon Street below is a reminder that you are in the true heart of Carlton.
330 Lygon Street, Carlton