Guy Grossi adds to his Bourke Street empire

Guy Grossi (right) oversees work in Ombra's salumi bar.
Guy Grossi (right) oversees work in Ombra's salumi bar. Photo: Tony Mott

KNOW THE DIFFERENCE between salami and salumi? No? Then walk into Ombra salumi bar, perhaps for a slice of salami, and the explanation is right there on a blackboard.

Ombra is the latest addition to Guy Grossi's Grossi Florentino empire in Bourke Street - a cool (literally) sausage-salon in which both salumi (cured meats - singular ''salume'') and salami (air-dried, cured sausages - singular ''salame'') are served, sold and celebrated.

Some of these products, which include such things as mortadella, pancetta and capocollo, are made in-house, while others are produced and aged off-site.

But it is the art and craft of preservation and yes, aged care, that is the key to this operation. ''This place came about because Guy wanted somewhere to bake his bread,'' says Liz Rodriguez, Guy's business partner and, incidentally, his sister.

''It's ideal because it's next door to the restaurants,'' she says of the premises for Ombra, which, for 17 years, was Dur-e Dara's Nudel Bar. ''We've been developing our own salumi and thought it would be great to create a salumi bar, a place for people to drop in to shop or to remain and graze,'' she says. The 60-seater is just two weeks old, and open six days a week from 11.30am to 1am.

Ombra isn't the only new activity in the Bourke Street complex, however. From January, Florentino upstairs will be closed for renovations - something the family has been talking about for four years and working on for two. Architects Mills & Gorman are working on the project with Guy, who is showing the sleek benefits of a recent health and fitness campaign - which may or may not inspire the designers to narrow kitchen doorways.

The ''new'' Florentino will offer a private dining room for up to 10 people, while the historic Mural Room will remain pretty much the way it is. And always has been.

''We will return it to its original dimension, improve the lighting and continue to restore the murals,'' Rodriguez says.

Heritage Victoria supports the project, she says. ''That's because our objective is to enhance what is already there.

''In the Grill, the Cellar Bar and Ombra, it's business as usual. It's just upstairs that will be closed, but should reopen in mid-February,'' Rodriguez says.