Diana Caruso says it doesn’t matter how many hospitality venues you own, like having children, it’s never going to be the same as the previous one.
“You have one child, and by the second one you think you’ve got it down pat,” says the mother of two. “No – you probably don’t. And it’s the same deal with cafes.”
No. 19 in Ascot Vale is Diana’s third cafe with husband Domenic, after St Rose in Essendon and Espresso 3121, now closed, in Richmond.
No. 19 doesn’t refer to the cafe’s street number, but something a little more sentimental.
“It’s the age Domenic and I met and the date my son is born,” Diana explains.
Popular dishes “so far are the Nourish Brekky with eggs, mushrooms, broccolini and haloumi” she says. “The pea fritters with pan-fried salmon have also been a hit.”
On the sweeter side, alongside spelt Bircher with coconut, N2 strawberry sherbet gelato and pineapple ginger, there’s Cherry Ripe pancakes with stewed cherries, dark chocolate mascarpone, chocolate cherry fudge ice-cream.
Melbourne-based studio Biasol designed the interior, with director Jean-Pierre Biasol working closely with the Carusos to create a specific vision for the 190-square-metre cafe.
“Our concept was an elegant, timeless space inspired by the Greek delicatessens that flourished throughout Melbourne in the 1950s,” Biasol says. “We wanted the space to feel like it had a sense of occasion.”
That has been translated with polished concrete floors, blonde timber furniture, bulbous brass lamps by Cedar and Moss from the US, and turquoise cement bar tiles from Popham Design.
If you’re dining in, chances are Domenic will make your coffee.
“I take care of setting up the menu, my husband takes care of the coffee,” Diana says. Coffee is made with beans from Five Senses, the same used at St Rose.
(03 8592 6919)
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm
Sat & Sun 8am–4pm