Bar Carolina's cafe spin-off Cantina Carolina opens in South Yarra

Spaghetti for breakfast: the carbonara tartufa at Cantina Carolina.
Spaghetti for breakfast: the carbonara tartufa at Cantina Carolina. Photo: Paul Jeffers

Times are tough in restaurant land, but while some are cinching their belts, Joe Mammone is doubling down.

In South Yarra, Mammone's sleek Bar Carolina is now joined by its long-awaited cafe, Cantina Carolina at 44 Toorak Road. Another sleek, detail-oriented Chris Connell design in wooden pinstripes, strip lights and steel, the cafe sits alongside Bar Carolina and below the also recently opened cocktail lounge, Tetto, upstairs.

Cantina now gives diners access to Carolina from 7am daily, for fresh juices, fruit-dressed panna cotta, pastries and the ultimate power breakfast: spaghetti carbonara. Take away lunch options include panini, a cotoletta or spaghetti with polpetti. More casual than Bar Carolina, nothing will exceed $30, says Mammone, and an accessible wine list starts at $8 a glass. The kitchen stays open until 4pm.

Cantina Carolina is more casual than Bar Carolina.
Cantina Carolina is more casual than Bar Carolina.  Photo: Paul Jeffers

In the city, meanwhile, Mammone and business partners have killed their darling Sarti, noting that while the team and property are unimpeachable, the offering was tired and needed to capture the next generation.

Come October, Sarti will reopen as Marameo, referencing the thumb-to-nose, finger-waggling taunt. "None of Sarti will remain," says Mammone, who has also commissioned Connell to transform this space into a bright and open restaurant. The floors have been levelled, the bar moved and the rooftop terrace and bar is being redone in shades of white and cream with mustard tones.

Low key will be the key, according to Mammone. In the bar that means snacks akin to Tetto, including the sister bar's slider and tartares. Lunch might draw you with cacio e pepe or a truffle pasta for $15, while bartender Tom Maiden's new cocktail program and gin focus, and a wine list expanding beyond Italy to the rest of the EU, might make you stay.