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By Marissa Ciampi
January 16, 2019

King & Godfree

The 135-year-old institution has been reborn as a three-level Italian food mecca.
By Marissa Ciampi
January 16, 2019

UPDATE: AUGUST 5, 2020 — Lygon Street's king of artisanal groceries is now dropping fresh fruit and veg boxes, plus ones filled with antipasto, to your door — with free delivery for orders over $50. Also on the takeaway lineup: pizza, lasagne, cheese, gelato and chocolate. You can order it all over here.


One of Melbourne's original grocers has made a major comeback, with King and Godfree reborn as a three-level Italian food mecca.

The Carlton grocery shop dates way back to 1884, and has been under the Valmorbida family ownership since 1955 — Carlo Valmorbida is said to have introduced parmesan cheese, olive oil and pasta to the Carlton community. Now, the Valmorbida grandchildren are in charge, and they've revealed a fully refurbished fit-out that pays homage to the original heritage digs, but with modern twists.

Designed by Melbourne architects Herbert & Mason, the fit-out combines elements of old-world Italy with a modern Melbourne espresso bar. Expect bespoke everything, from the custom-built lighting and furniture down to the handmade deli plates, by local ceramicist Ingrid Tuft. The original K&G crest has also been rebuilt by an old-fashioned terrazzo maker and inlaid at the entrance.

The Roman-style delicatessen aims to be your 'one-stop shop' for everything Italian, and houses an espresso bar, deli and traditional grocer. In the espresso bar, expect house-roasted coffee by head barista Lucas Carrington (ex-All Press, London), along with Italian espresso and fair trade Guatemalan single origin. For breakfast, there are also fresh juices and smoothies, plus Italian baked goods and breakfast plates — these include the fried egg, pancetta and basil panino and scrambled eggs with cured salmon, chives and toast.

During the day, there's a succinct list of pastas and cicchetti (Italian-style tapas) to choose from, as well as rotisserie meats, roasted veggies, ready-made Italian sandwiches and daily specials. The cicchetti will also be available for classic aperitivo hour from 47pm — think arancini, sweet and sour sardines and spinach pie, all served alongside spritzes, cocktails and Italian beers.

In the deli, there are freshly baked breads, a massive assortment of local and imported cheeses, artisan salumi and DOP accredited prosciutto to look forward to. Italian smallgoods, fresh flowers and meals for takeaway round out the offering. Deciding what to buy will be the hard part, but luckily there will be plenty of tastings and demonstrations on offer, too.

Opening alongside K&G Deli and Espresso Bar (or, should we say, on top of) is Johnny's Green Room. Taking its name from an old 1960s Carlton haunt, the relaxed rooftop bar has stunning views across Melbourne. Opening from noon til late, daily, Johnny's is serving up a range of cocktails on tap — including Carlton classic the Northside, negronis and espresso martinis — as well as a slew of local and international beer and wine.

You're able to eat up here, too. Take a seat on one of the banquettes — made from repurposed terrazzo steps — and dig in to classic Roman pasta dishes, like the cacio e pepe or rigatoni pomodoro; pork and fennel sausage rolls; and antipasto plates made with meats and cheeses from the downstairs deli. Pidapipo, also part of the building and run by Carlo's granddaughter Lisa, is providing choc tops for dessert.

While this incarnation of Johnny's Green Room doesn't have pool tables and gangsters, it does still have a bit of a nightclub vibe with a lineup of DJs, chosen by Hope Street Radio, taking to the decks regularly.

Images: Kate Shanasy and Josh Robenstone.

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