Carlton, Melbourne’s latest and greatest
THOUGH NO ONE’S GOING to deny that it has its tacky side, Carlton is one of those rare Melbourne precincts that just seems to keep enduring and evolving. Once you look beyond the “ciao bella” cheese of the touristy bits, you’ll find an appealing mix of traditional European timelessness, retro nostalgia and energetic, youthful vision – you just need to know where to look. When Italian migrants arrived in the area (then a Jewish enclave) post-Second World War they brought with them espresso, olive oil and a way of good living that laid the foundations for the stellar food and wine scene that Melbourne has since gained glowing international recognition for. During the 1960s, Lygon Street welcomed the city’s first coffee shops, pizza parlours and continental grocers, establishing itself as a cultural heartland for Melbourne’s Italian community and providing an education for non-Italians keen to expand their culinary vocab. While a considerable portion of the area is still made up of proudly family-run businesses that are now generations deep, the past few years have seen a new wave of entrepreneurs energising the suburb. One such business is Tony Nicolini’s D.O.C – an artisan pizzeria that opened in 2007, showing Melburnians what traditional thin crust pizza and real-deal buffalo mozzarella are all about. A long-time Carlton resident, Nicolini says the neighbourhood offers a sense of containment that few other areas in the city do. “What I love about Carlton is the intimate village feel it has,” he explains. “You’re within walking distance of the city and you’re surrounded by beautiful parks, libraries, cinemas, the museum – it’s all on our doorstep. I know people that live locally, work locally and they might visit our establishments three or four times a day. You can easily live in Carlton and have no need for a motor car – it’s almost as if there’s no need to leave the neighbourhood.” Which really just makes you want to pack your bags, sell your car and move right in.
FROM LEFT: Hole in the wall takeaways at Market Lane Coffee; Try the extensive list of old-world wines at Carlton Wine Room.