Thirty Eight Chairs Carlton North
Gino Forlano dedicated the second Thirty Eight Chairs to his baby daughter, Rafaella Maria, born just a few months before it opened. And true to the area, it’s the sort of place where children are welcome.
The old Paragon cafe was turned into a bigger version of his South Yarra venture in 2016. The extra space means there’s room to do more, starting with the breakfast menu. It pays tribute to its predecessor with The Paragon: Moreton Bay bug meat and avocado in a milk bun. Coffee is from Melbourne roaster Niccolo.
The restaurant's driving force is its staff. Like Forlano, the waiters are Italian born and keen to bring a bit of Italy to Melbourne. Let them suggest primi piatti (first plates) while you select your handmade pasta. A fish and a meat option are there, but it’s a pasta bar for a reason.
The wine list is predominantly Italian, with some Victorian labels. The restaurant offers an unusually large number on tap, including a prosecco, rose, sangiovese and pinot grigio. There’s also Moretti on tap and Peroni in bottles. Order a Campari, Aperol or other classic cocktail if you really want to get into the spirit of Forlano’s hometown of Positano.
The bar is made from Italian white marble, and a tiled feature wall provides a contrast for the dark wood furniture. There’s alfresco dining out the front, with the tables pushed close together, as they would be on the streets of Italy.
A 40-seat function room is also available for hire.