Award-winning Melbourne hospitality duo Michael and Zara Madrusan of Made in the Shade Group are introducing classic Italian hospitality to Russell Street, launching Connie’s Italian Diner & Rooftop Terrazza today, Thursday 21 April. Named after Michael’s beloved Nonna Connie, the New York-inspired slice joint, Connie’s Pizza originally launched as a hole-in-the-wall in 2017 within Made in the Shade’s iconic rock ‘n’ roll bar, Heartbreaker. Now with an ambitious space directly above Heartbreaker, Connie’s will expand into a standalone modern 100-seat trattoria, showcasing traditional dishes inspired by Michael’s memories of growing up in his family’s Italian restaurants.
Head Chef Matteo D’Elia, whose experience includes working at Michelin starred restaurants including Galvin at Windows (London) and Bibendum (London), has joined Connie’s and will work closely with Michael to create a menu that highlights both of their Italian heritage through traditional dishes as well as Connie’s famous Grandma-style pizzas. The drinks program, as expected, is carefully considered, maintaining Made in the Shade’s dedication to producing quality drinks
Michael says, “The Connie’s concept is grounded in a love of traditional home cooking and a feel-good, warm and welcoming atmosphere, an inspiration of mine from growing up in an Italian family where generosity and food is what brings everyone together. I love that we can give Connie’s its own space and brand finally, and showcase something super close to my heart. There’ll be delicious food and drinks, great music and a gorgeous rooftop overlooking this incredible city, from early afternoon till late at night.”
The a la carte menu features dishes such as veal tonnato, eggplant parmigiana; Sunday Sauce – a Sunday ragu, served family-style; Connie’s famous Grandma-style pizzas; a selection of salads; and a tiramisu-based sundae.
With views across the rooftops of the CBD, the sun-drenched rooftop terrazza includes bench seating, festoon lighting and lush, leafy surrounds. This space offers table service, drinks from the main bar and the full menu available to guests. Guests dining on the terrazza will also enjoy Italian sausage and peppers from the alfresco BBQ menu every weekend. The terrazza is the perfect spot for an afternoon aperitif or dinner under the stars – walk-ins encouraged.
Encapsulating the vibe and energy of the venue, the drinks program will feature classic and sparkling cocktails by the bottle and on-tap. Bar Margaux’s sommelier, Tom Smith, has also curated a considered list of Italian wines (by the glass and bottle).
Connie’s interior draws inspiration from traditional New York Italian diners, with red vinyl booths, red and white chequered tablecloths, lazy susans (a tribute to Chinatown) and Tiffany leadlight pendants. plus striking red and black diamond tiles across the 7 -seater bar. Other distinct features include framed nostalgic pop culture icons, a tropical fish tank and a projection of classic Italian black and white sitcoms on the dining room wall.
Connie’s will open five days a week for dinner and drinks, from 5pm until late, and offers group bookings as well as function and event room hire. Walk-ins are always welcome.
Connie’s Italian Diner & Rooftop Terrazza, Upstairs 234B Russell Street, Melbourne, directly above Heartbreaker
Opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 5pm until late
Reservations via: https://www.connies.melbourne/ or call (03) 8413 2970
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