King & Godfree
The 135-year-old institution has been reborn as a three-level Italian food mecca.
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 4–7pm — 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.
Images: Kate Shanasy and Josh Robenstone.