Adriana Agricola has been watching Preston from afar. New York to be exact. She lasted 15 years in the Big Apple before the 50-year-old dress factory she grew up in finally called her back.

She’s transformed it into Sartoria, a cafe decorated with sewing machines, fabric, mannequins and other relics from her childhood.

“I was ready, but Preston wasn’t,” she says. It took new openings such as Dexter, Stray Neighbour, Chew Burgers and Melbourne Arts Club to give her the confidence to act on a five-year-old idea.

Sartoria fits in well with this group. Consulting chef Jason Shiong (ex-Longrain) has given the menu a progressive-but-approachable feel. It includes dishes such as hash-brown waffles with poached eggs. The crunchy, yolk-absorbing stack is encircled by dabs of goat’s cheese and pureed peas put together by on-site chef Luke Hawkins.

The Necchi (named after a brand of Italian sewing machine) is batons of banana sunk into a quagmire of sticky black rice, matcha foam and chia jelly.

Lunch is diverse. There’s beetroot and lentil salad; a Wagyu cheeseburger; ricotta gnocchi; and eight-hour lamb shoulder with herby salsa verde.

Like The Necchi all these dishes reference the spacious building’s history. Throughout the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s Adriana’s fashion-designer mum (Carmela) and pattern-cutting dad (Joseph) used the site to produce clothing after emigrating from Italy.

At the big communal table you can see where Adriana helped roll out patterns as a child. It’s inlaid with blueprints for dresses. In the centre of the table there’s a cold-drip coffee maker filled with old buttons and brooches.

Coffee beans are from young roaster Where’s Marcel?. They're batch-brewed or pumped through a bright-orange La Marzocco.

For a stiff drink check out the range of brunch cocktails and aperitivos, which will start getting a run from 4pm to 8pm in coming weeks.

It’s an exciting new chapter for a space already stacked with personal history. “All my family members, and everyone involved in the whole process, have come in and almost been in tears,” Agricola says.

Everyone except for Joseph and Carmela, that is. They’ve long since retired to the Italian coast, though they’re already planning a trip home.

Sartoria
115 Plenty Road, Preston
(03) 9480 5664

Hours
Mon to Fri 7am–4pm
Sat to Sun 8am–4pm

sartoria.com.au