Cucina Povera Vino Vero bar opens in Melbourne CBD; restaurant coming soon

Joseph Vargetto will open stage one of Cucina Povera this week.
Joseph Vargetto will open stage one of Cucina Povera this week. Photo: Scott McNaughton

Maurice Terzini's highly anticipated return to Melbourne restaurants is a step closer this week, with the opening tomorrow of the bar at Cucina Povera Vino Vero, his CBD venture with chef Joseph Vargetto.

Before opening for full service the following week, they'll offer a concise bar menu plus cocktails including Negroni SbagliatosĀ in what Vargetto is describing as "Cucina piccola".

The week-long preview will celebrate Italian migrant traditions in Australia via small plates such as fried provolone cheese with sweet and sour figs and barbecued lupini beans with chilli. Every hour, they'll place a freshly made copper pot of ricotta on the bar, to be served with ciabatta. And for dessert, there are cannoli from legendary Footscray bakery T Cavallaro & Sons.

Visitors will also get a glimpse of Cucina Povera's industrial-inspired fitout, featuring concrete and splashes of red, a departure from the warm wood of previous restaurant Massi, which Vargetto opened in 2016.

Since Good Food broke news of the project last September, Terzini's son, Sylvester, has departed, with Steven Kirkpatrick from Icebergs Dining Room & Bar and Belongil Beach Italian Food stepping in as restaurant manager.

Maurice Terzini, who made his name at Caffe e Cucina in South Yarra and St Kilda's Melbourne Wine Room before heading north to open Icebergs at Bondi, originally hoped to launch Cucina Povera last November but was delayed by shortages of tradespeople and restaurant staff.

"Maybe it's a godsend that it's been delayed," says Vargetto, who also owns Mister Bianco in Kew. "It's been a great opportunity for us to nut out the reality of what it is."

The 40-seat restaurant will be open for four dinners and two lunches a week from June 29.

Bar open Wed-Sat 5pm-late from June 22.

445 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, 03 9670 5347,