“Melbourne made me Italian,” says Gino Forlano, owner of South Yarra pasta bar Thirty Eight Chairs.
Forlano explains while he grew up on the idyllic Amalfi Coast, it was working as a director at nearby Caffe e Cucina that he learned the nuances of Italian regional cuisine.
Thirty Eight Chairs, which Forlano opened off Chapel Street in 2012, pays homage to his coastal roots, but his new tapas bar next door, Mr. Bond, takes inspiration from greater Italy.
Hundred-year-old terracotta tiles, taken from a house in Spain, adorn the bar. Suspended crystal-whisky-tumbler lights imported from London illuminate the space.
The open kitchen won’t serve pizza or pasta, rather “cucina povera”, or Italian street food, in the form of made-to-share plates such as charred flatbread with prosciutto, mozzarella and rocket; smoked-cod dip with crisp slithers of sourdough; and golden-fried arancini balls.
There’ll be four wines on tap, alongside beer by Moretti.
In the meantime a new Thirty Eight Chairs in Carlton North is taking shape on Rathdowne Street. Slated to open in early September, it will be a much larger site than South Yarra and will feature a pasta bar, wine bar and a function space.