Umberto Espresso Bar
After 10 years on High Street, Thornbury’s Umberto Espresso Bar moved into a 100-year-old former shoe store just 100 metres up the road.
The laid-back Italian spot got a lot of its charm from its snug scale, but owner Marco Finanzio assures us he’s concerned less with the bells and whistles of modern design, and more with replicating the feel of the OG Umberto.
But with one main difference: plenty more room. Umberto 2.0 will seat 200 (compared to its predecessor’s 40), spread across several rooms and nooks. On street level, two huge windows flank the entrance, and there'll be dark-wood panelling and familiar fixtures.
On the first floor are two private dining areas – one with a newly terrazzo-tiled balcony that overlooks High Street. Above that there’ll be a rooftop bar,opening in the summer of 2021.
The menu is compact and beautifully executed, with pas ta dishes that rival any nonna’s (such as the broccoli and chilli penne). Specials of the day are chalked up on the walls. Make a note: they are "special" and when a dish is sold out for the night, it’s gone.
The hearty home fare is complemented by a tidy list of Italian and Australian wines, and of course, beers. If you're keen to kick on, Finanzio's bar, Joanie's Baretto is a few doors up. It's named after his Australian-born mother.
A recipe from Umberto's is featured in The Broadsheet Italian Cookbook. Buy your copy at shop.broadsheet.com.au.