Mercato Centrale is a brand of fancy, bustling, artisan-led Italian food halls with locations across the big boot of Italy – in Florence, Rome, Turin and Milan.
But, for its just-announced first venue outside Italy, it’s heading Down Under.
Mercato Centrale, which translates to “central market” in Italian, is slated to open in Melbourne by the end of the year. It’ll take up residence in the former McPherson’s building, the CBD’s 1934-built art deco wonder on the west end of Collins Street.
Bringing the concept to Oz is hospitality expert Eddie Muto, whose Barman & Larder group is behind venues such as St Kilda pizzeria Flour Child and Southbank’s Left Bank.
“It took me about four years [to secure the licence to operate Mercato Centrale],” Muto tells Broadsheet.
His perseverance paid off. The building has already been gutted, and Muto says the Mercato Centrale team will travel to Melbourne this month to finalise the design, which he says will be closest in style to the food hall’s popular Rome location.
The Italian-food oasis will stretch across two storeys – the 1300-square-metre ground floor and 2000-square-metre first floor. And it’ll be filled with everything from fresh pasta and bakery goods (handmade onsite), to a butcher and fishmonger, to an in-house pizzeria. And a whole lot more. “It’s a holistic Italian experience,” says Muto.
Italian restaurant entrepreneur Umberto Montano first launched Mercato Centrale in Florence in 2014 as a place for top-of-their-game artisan producers to sell their wares under one roof. The soon-to-open Melbourne location will follow suit, with number of dedicated stalls run by passionate producers – some local, some from Italy, Muto says.