Friday September 1 will see Chapel Street’s newest opening, Studio Amaro; a day-to-night Italian-inspired restaurant and basement bar from Commune Group (Firebird, Moonhouse, New Quarter, Hanoi Hannah, Tokyo Tina). The multi-faceted venue, also Commune’s largest to date, will champion the forgotten drink of Amaro, boasting an extensive list of the bittersweet liqueur remixed to ignite an Italian affair, served alongside a feast of Italian-style sharing dishes.
Panelled with dark timber and sultry hues of chocolate, Studio Amaro will envelop patrons in its intimate den-like interior, where accents of olive green and russet red run throughout, paying homage to Italy’s national palette. Cosy nooks, retro corduroy banquettes in mustard tones, and custom chairs in rich walnut and ash by local maker Steve Edwards are elegantly refined and designed with subtle nods to 80s Italian design. In the main dining room, a well-stocked Italian granite bar will take centre stage, whilst floor-to-ceiling windows will flood the room with natural light and provide a seamless transition as night falls, lights are dimmed, and the ambience is dialled up.
Staying true to its Italian ethos, Studio Amaro’s dishes have been designed to share ‘family-style’, as was the custom at Italian Head Chef Daniel Migliaccio’s dinner table growing up. Migliaccio’s menu will take everyone’s favourite elements of Italian cuisine.
“The Studio Amaro menu is not tied down to one region, rather, it takes inspiration from across the entire country. In Victoria we are lucky to have 4 distinct seasons and our menu will evolve with these seasons , focusing on the best produce available at the time,” says Migliaccio.
The menu of snacks, antipasti, housemade pastas, and dishes from the woodfired grill will include:
- Fried mozzarella with fresh basil and anchovy
- Housemade sourdough focaccia – perfect for mopping up
- Tuna carpaccio – tomato oil, olive crumb and capers
- Woodfired eggplant caponata – sweet and spicy with the eggplant cooked on the grill
- Whipped ricotta and lemon oil
- Rigatoni Arrabbiata – Wood fired chilli, stracciatella, olive
- Mafaldine – piled high with prawns and swimming in a citrus bisque
- Conchiglie – Pasta shells fresh and fried, chickpea soffrito
- Paccheri – translated in Italian as ‘slaps’, will do so, smothered in a rich ox-tail ragu and sprinkled with crispy pangrattato
- Half chicken, black garlic salmoriglio – a zesty southern Italian sauce of lemon, olive oil and garlic and pickled chillies
- Pork cutlet Saltimbocca – The Roman classic with marsala, sage and onion
- Snapper All’acqua Pazza – grilled in a ‘crazy water’ of burnt tomato, fennel and basil
- 1kg T-Bone MB3 Gippsland ‘Bistecca Fiorentina’ – Averna, the classic bitter digestif and pink peppercorn jus
For something sweet, diners will be able to finish with a short but considered menu of decadent hazelnut tartufo, refreshing rockmelon granita, affogato and a weekly rotation of Italian cakes and tortas.
In keeping with its namesake, Studio Amaro will offer an extensive list of amaro liqueurs, alongside a list of classics, spritzes and more unusual cocktails. Commune Creative Director, Simon Blacher shares.
“The drinks list has been pivotal to the foundation of Studio Amaro, and our team has gone to great lengths to secure some of the world’s most unique and interesting liqueurs. Amaro is the drink that you never knew you loved, and we can’t wait to put them back on the hit list.
We have put a lot of time and effort in both our Amaro and cocktail lists, to ensure that the classics are executed as well as they can be. They are classics for a reason right?”
Other drink highlights will include:
- The signature, ‘Nero Spritz’ – a bittersweet concoction of Zucca Rabarbaro and Lucano amaro, Italian Balsamic Vine, topped with prosecco and garnished with Cara-Cara orange
- ‘Nick’s Limoncello Marg’ – a well-balanced and dangerously drinkable mix of lemon, Tromba amaro, limoncello and salt-bush infused agave, set to be the drink of the summer
- Garibaldi – Campari and seasonal citrus, shaken to create a cocktail that will send you straight to the North of Italy
- Sour Cherry Negroni – Archie Rose straight dry gin, Campari, sweet and bitter Punt e Mes Carpano Vermouth topped with sour cherry juice
The wine list will be divided into Australian wines ‘from here’ and Italian wines ‘from there’, embracing the easy going, easy-drinking, carefree nature of table wine, with carafes of Murray-Darling MDI red, white and pink available.
For those who aren’t quite ready to go home after dinner, Studio Amaro’s basement bar will be filled with boogie and booze, and the electrifying undercurrent will be the beating heart of the venue. Studio Amaro will serve as a love letter to Napoli ‘85, celebrating the catchy beats of Italo-disco. With a rotating lineup of some of Melbourne’s best DJs taking to the underground decks, alongside a carefully curated Radio Amaro playlist, diners, drinkers and groovers will be transported to the hey-day of Italy’s electrifying Euro synth-pop and dance era.
“I always wanted music to be as big a part of this as the food. All the parts of the business hum succinctly, and music is an important element of that,” shares Blacher.
Thursday to Saturday night, the underground DJ booth will vibrate with the rhythmic beats of disco and soul, soundtracked by a rotating lineup of DJs selecting tunes, whilst conversation, laughter and shots will continue to spill well into the night.
Blacher adds, “By nature, restaurateurs and chefs are romantics, and Studio Amaro has been a real passion project. We want the venue to be everything to everyone – a lunchtime locale, an afterwork aperitivo, your first date – or second, or third. It’s a late night hangout, a place where the answer is always yes, and most importantly, it’s the party that everyone’s invited to.
The full food menu will be available downstairs and guests are invited to walk in, or book the semi private table for up to 30 people.”
Designed by Melbourne-based creative Wendy Bergman, founder of preeminent interior design studio Bergman & Co, with branding from Fitzroy-based design group Space Between, the focus has been placed on creating a space that is alluring from the street and immediately inviting – one of comfortable cool. Aware that the dining space had to compliment the food – casual, informal, incidental but impressive eating – Bergman & Co. has incorporated this relaxed yet confident sentiment into Studio Amaro’s design.
Studio Amaro will open on Friday, 1 September 2023 and will be open seven days a week, 12pm until late.