For Chris Taranto, life has come full circle with the opening this week of The Continental in Geelong's Little Mallop Street, just three doors down from where he ran Sempre Caffe e Paninoteca from 1995 to 2000.
Taranto had a couple of little places in Melbourne and worked for the European group for a few years before heading back to Geelong three years ago.
After coming across the former Sedap Corner Malaysian restaurant six month ago, Taranto has given it an extensive 1940s Italian-inspired makeover with art deco lighting, polished concrete floors and treasures picked up on his last European trip, including an original 1960s coffee machine and vintage Campari ephemera.
The 60-seat bar is set over two levels. The lower level is all high dark timber tables and stools while the higher level has tables and chairs and a banquette. An adjoining 40-seat dining room will open within the next couple of months.
Will Moyle, formerly at Donovans and the Wine Bar at Point Lonsdale, heads up the kitchen with a menu of modern Italiandishes designed to share while a Euro-focused wine list also features a large range of Amaro and European beers. There's a $45 five-course Sunday lunch – but they won't take bookings until the dining room opens.
The Continental is open Mon-Sat 4pm-1am, Sun noon-11pm at 82 Little Malop Street, Geelong, 03 5222 5677.