This Melbourne Bar Is Making Amaro Cool Again (and Turns Into an After-Hours Disco)

Studio Amaro

“My favourite response when someone talks about Studio Amaro is ‘I don’t know what I had, but I just had a great time’,” says Simon Blacher, Creative Director of Commune Group.

Blacher and the group are behind Studio Amaro, which opened on Chapel Street in Melbourne this September. The venue comprises a restaurant on the ground floor and a bar in the basement, open for walk-ins and serving food, too. Both spots champion amaro, a bittersweet Italian digestif.

Studio Amaro Melbourne
Image: Studio Amaro

“We have given the same amount of focus to the drinks, music and atmosphere as we have to the food,” says Blacher. “It’s a multifaceted day-to-night venue that doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel.”

The venue is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with an ethos of seasonality and approachability. It’s about simplicity on the plate and less is more. Think octopus served with beans and Aleppo pepper, rigatoni arrabbiata with stracciatella and whole flounder with gremolata.

Head Chef Daniel Migliaccio says he was inspired by the meals served at his Italian family’s dinner table growing up, but that Studio Amaro’s menu includes most elements of Italian cuisine.

Image: Studio Amaro

“The menu isn’t tied down to one region, rather, it takes inspiration from across all of Italy,” Migliaccio says. “In Victoria, we are lucky to have four distinct seasons, and our menu will evolve with these seasons, focusing on the best produce available at the time.”

Blacher’s menu favourite is the pork saltimbocca, a pork chop wrapped in prosciutto and served with a sauce of marsala and deeply caramelised onion. It’s a dish he says that’s both salty and sweet, rich but not overpowering. “It’s a dish you don’t see around much anymore,” Blacher says.

Studio Amaro
Image: Studio Amaro

“Our pasta is another highlight for me. It’s all made fresh on-site daily. The mafaldine is made with a prawn bisque, charred tomato, citrus and chilli, another amazing flavour combination. We also have a large antipasti section that’s designed to share. Its highlight for me is the wood-charred peppers with basil oil, all mopped up with our 72-hour fermented sourdough focaccia.”

The drinks list has a dedicated amaro section, from which you order it neat or in a cocktail. If you’d prefer something else, you’ll be spoilt for choice, with cocktails, wine, beer, spirits, other liqueurs and non-alcoholic options too.

Studio Amaro
Image: Studio Amaro

The dimly lit interiors feature dark timber, hues of chocolate and accents of olive green and russet red throughout, plucked from Italy’s unofficial colour palette. You’ll also find cosy nooks, retro corduroy banquettes in mustard and chairs by local maker Steve Edwards. Come in the day and you’ll be treated to views of passersby from the ground floor’s floor-to-ceiling windows.

“Get a few friends together and book upstairs,” says Blacher. “Share everything and don’t forget to order our MDI table wine. Then head downstairs and get into our 50+ amaro list, while the best Melbourne DJs spin Italo-disco ‘til late.”

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