Mark’s Say

As one of the guests at a special preview of the new Brunetti in Lygon Street remarked, Rome has come to Melbourne. The new Brunetti is an over-the-top delight of marble, terrazzo, wood, cakes and coffee. Designer Joseph Angeli’s idea was to create a long space simulating a village street with different zones featuring different kinds of food. Eventually the space will extend to Drummond Street. Joseph is a great fan of the Bialetti coffee machines – you know, the ones with the little man on them that you put on top of the stove – and if you look closely you’ll find references to them throughout the new site. When I asked proprietor Fab Angeli about the cost of such a bespoke design, he rolled his eyes and said, ‘He’s my brother, how could I say no to him?’

As well as the cakes, savouries and coffee that Brunetti is renowned for, the new cafe will be expanded to include fresh pasta, wood-fired pizza, desserts and an extensive Italian and local wine list. Sicilian chef Giuseppe Santoro has come out from Switzerland to look after the kitchen. Santoro, president of the Italian Pizza Makers Association of the World, will create what he calls pizza alla pala, a pizza ‘plant’ that you break off in 10 or 20cm pieces. The new Brunetti is actually returning to its original site in Lygon Street. It was opened by Otto Pace in the 1970s as the Carlton Cake Shop. Pace sold it to his pastry chef, Pierro Brunetti, who moved it to Faraday Street in 1985. In 1991, the Angeli family acquired it and further transformed this Melbourne institution. The new palace of Italian delights opened on 2 April and it’s well worth a look!

From food happiness to inner happiness – Melbourne will host the eighth Happiness & Its Causes Conference in mid June. Over 35 speakers will give their insights into what happiness is and what we might do to achieve it. Readings’ customers can also get a 25% discount on registration fees.

Finally, I was saddened to read about the death of James Strong, who was, among other things, the former chair of the Australia Council and CEO of Australian Airlines and Qantas. Back in the early 80s, Strong was a big supporter of the events that Readings used to run in conjunction with Mietta’s in the city. Australian Airlines gave us tickets to bring interstate writers down to Melbourne. I remember an excited Kate Grenville arriving for an event, having flown down business class – needless to say it was a wonderful night. The Readings events at Mietta’s, with Strong’s support, eventually morphed into the Melbourne Writers Festival.