Carl­ton, Mel­bourne’s lat­est and great­est

Australian Traveller - - Contents -

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.

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