First published in The Melbourne Review May 2013
AS the launch of the new Brunetti in Carlton approached, owner Yuri Angelé averaged a whopping 12 cups of coffee a day.
Such was his anticipation to meet the April 3 deadline of this most ambitious incarnation of the family business. He need not have worried. Locals have embraced the new Brunetti in Lygon Court and the expanded range of dining options it now offers. In partnership with his brother Fabio and designed by their architect brother Joe, this is the largest of their four Melbourne cafés and is located at the site of the first Brunetti which opened in 1974.
The extensive design and planning of the vast kitchen and front of house area represents a culmination of what they have learnt over many years in the business. Three years of planning and trips to Italy, France and Germany to seek out the best examples of cafés of a similar scale were to ensure an authenticity of product, service and design. Angelé explains that this authenticity, and of course the coffee and cakes, are central to the success of Brunetti.
“It is important for customers to see the complex process of making products on site,” he says.
A chef will make fresh pasta in full view of patrons when the restaurant and retail area eventually extend into the remaining 800m2 above Drummond Street. Currently, the restaurant has a view to the preparation area of Executive Chef Giuseppe Santoro.
Patrons can enter Brunetti via the spacious entry from Lygon Court or from the forecourt on Lygon Street. Traditional Brunetti celebration cakes are on display in custom made refrigerators which line the shopfront and both sides of the forecourt entry. One side of the café is dining and retail with the other side dedicated to the display of small cakes, biscuits, pastries, savouries, panini and pizza. With such a long tenancy to consider, the plan is composed of three large circular spaces and two smaller dining areas. A high-tech pizza oven with rotating interior is the focal point of the Pizzeria. Adjacent to this is the colourful gelati bar dispensing homemade gelati and already a hit with the locals.
Curved walls and clever merchandising throughout Brunetti and at custom designed display units give the restaurant a sense of intimacy from the more active café. Each seating area has a different appeal to the next. Layers of detail include custom designed dining tables and chairs and feature ceilings which indicate a thoroughly considered three dimensional response to the interior. Elements such as custom designed clusters of pendant lights, amusing chef hat wall lights and heat lamp shades help to define each zone.
“The heart of the business is the coffee bar where the baristas are on show,” Angelé explains. “The central station is elevated and it’s designed to be seen from almost anywhere in the café.”
While a streamlined ordering system and other operational improvements have improved waiting times for coffee, the oversized copper light shade above the baristas is inspired by a low-tech traditional approach to making coffee. The base of a bialetti stovetop espresso coffee percolator is the inspiration for this recurring motif which also forms the base of the round communal table.
Certain details remain consistent across all the Brunetti cafés. Custom made terrazzo floor tiles, floral patterned Bisazza mosaic tiles, dark stained timber veneer, large black and white photographs of 1940’s Rome and white Carrara marble are signature finishes of the Brunetti brand. Angelé is especially pleased with the feature mosaic marble floor patterns designed in Italy and arranged and installed by TTI Stone.