Ombra Salumi Bar is a fresh seedling with roots that run deep in hospitality culture. Having opened in November by Guy Grossi and managed by his son Carlo, the salumi bar next to Grossi Florentino, began as an initiative of space for baking bread and making the salumi Florentino already produced. However, sending an oven from Italy that met ambition and fit into the shop proved to be difficult, and while said appropriate machinery floats over from Europe, the bar became more concerned with its already steady flow of customers.
The narrow restaurant is lit for conversation over wine and is covered in homely ubiquitous wood work which also rafts a selection of pickles representing almost every ingredient on the menu. Upstairs is more expansive with a feature wall/window showing a busier view than the inside calm.
At first glance Ombra may appear to be exclusive and inaccessible for a younger crowd. A place for professionals to chat about the NAZDAQ and polling positions, but Ombra as a young restaurant is exactly that, young. The music played is more mellow rock than piano lounge and the menu has some little touches that foreshadow its youthful vibe. The Different Strokes theme song is quoted in full to explain that connoisseurs will need an open mind for some of their wines, and knuckles tattooed with ‘TOUGH LOVE” urge you not to dilly dally with your wine, to hurry up and start drinking. The forces behind Ombra may be old-hands but it has been fashioned with new eyes.
Dinner moved from Braised Intercoastal Butter Milk Rolls, to twelve hour cooked Lamb ribs, some duck pancetta with kim chi and a Margherita pizza main followed by salted caramel profiteroles. Distancing itself further from aristocratic eating values, the food served is best eaten without a knife and fork, “grab it and make a mess” was Carlo’s advice. Although there are only three pizzas on offer they are more of a canvas for the array of salumi you can choose, which are then served on a side plate allowing you make your own.
The theme of Ombra seems to be an extended infusion of flavours. Small ingredients are pickled and preserved, or meats cured into salumi. Lamb is cooked for half a day or Octupus is slowly smoked. Head Chef, James Vardis’ chilli jam also follows trend even though it doesn’t preserve on the table for long
Salumi really is the star of this restaurant though and a concise explanation of its difference from its sausage cousin is chalked on the wall. Vardis applies various methods along with patience to cure a wide selection of meats and represent the diverse flavours that self-cured meat can give. Dextrous enough to juggle a restaurant of orders and still have time to leave the kitchen and explain the nuances of the food on the table, its safe to say the kitchen is in capable hands. Diners are then well looked after by the affable Carlo who is always on hand for a top-up.
Mellow yet classy, Ombra is perfect for when you want to eat artisan food without the poncey environment.
Ombra, 76 Bourke Street, Melbourne.