When Sydney comes to Melbourne, it does so in a big way.
So a new multi-level dining precinct, with bars and restaurants under one (enormous) roof, is entirely in character. The Alfred – formerly Mietta’s, Comme and most recently Stokehouse City – is now home to The Cut and Fratelli Fresh, a steakhouse and a casual Italian eatery.
The ambitious project is the work of Urban Purveyor Group, which has an existing Melbourne presence with its two Sake restaurants and Munich Brauhaus in South Wharf. Fratelli Fresh is one of the group’s newest acquisitions, and this CBD opening represents what promises to be a serious expansion – it has plans for 60 east-coast outlets in coming years.
The historic building off upper Collins was the first stop for Victoria because of its corporate population, CEO Thomas Pash tells Broadsheet. “A lot of the big services firms, KPMG or some of the big law firms, they know our brands from travelling back and forth between Melbourne and Sydney.”
To that end, UPG spent around $4 million on a soft-refurbishment of the building, which had only recently undergone major renovations under Stokehouse, to align with its sister-sites.
“We’ve worked very hard to make it consistent across both markets,” explains Pash. “Fratelli and Cut are very well-established brands, so we wanted to make sure that when people came to the Melbourne venues for the first time, it was very much that same experience, the same menus. We wanted to be sure we didn’t change it up too much.”
The parquet-floored lobby has a glassed-in meat locker housing more than $100,000 in dry-aged beef. Downstairs, Fratelli Fresh is decked out in chequered marble floors, Art Deco light fittings, a 20-seat horseshoe counter, and a $170,000 stereo. There’s a standalone bar called Bar Fratelli serving Italian beer and Negronis on tap, with room for around 40. “It’s by far the sexiest venue we’ve ever opened,” says Pash.
Upstairs things are a little more upmarket. The Cut’s 120-seater dining room dressed in wood-cladding, green leather and more marble. A five-metre-high back bar has an outrageous display of wine and spirits, and there’s another discreet whisky bar for 40 named The Library.
“It’s luxe, but once again, it’s premium casual,” says Pash. “It’s not white tablecloths and it doesn’t feel too stuffy.”
The grub in each venue is overseen by executive chef Timothy Martin, formerly of The European and the short-lived Woody.P. The Cut’s stocked with hearty, meaty fare: oysters, tartare, marrow, pie and, of course, a whole stockyard’s worth of steak. There’s a tri-tip of Robbins Island Wagyu, and a flank from Sevens Creek; Black Market Rangers provides a grain-fed flat iron, and Cape Grim a grass-fed rib eye.
Downstairs, things are a bit more relaxed; baked eggs with suga and nduja, and prosciutto aged 20 months. Pizza dough is fermented for 48 hours and topped with potato, onions and lamb snags, or devilled prawns and sorrel.
Pash believes there’s nothing like Fratelli Fresh here.
“Melbourne has amazing Italian food. But Fratelli is casual pizza and pasta. There are 25 to 30 items on the menu that are under 20 bucks,” he says. “It’s easy to get in and out with two people, a couple of beers or glass of wine and some pizza for under $50 bucks. It’s at a really value-driven price-point, but it’s a really amazing product.”
The Alfred is only the beginning of Fratelli’s Victorian ambitions: “We’d really like to do four or five Fratellis in the next two or three years,” says Pash. “As we do additional Fratelli throughout the Melbourne market, we’ll definitely look to incorporate the retail side of it as well.”
7 Alfred Place, Melbourne
The Cut Steakhouse
Mon to Fri 12pm–3pm, 5pm–11.00pm
Sat & Sun 5pm–11pm