Brunetti has a special place in my heart (and stomach) thanks to my years as a uni student when we would head down to Lygon street for a pastry hit. It was about the time I was at uni that the Carlton stalwart started to expand, opening up mini Brunetti satellite stores on campus and in the city. But the original store stayed pretty much the same until this year when it moved around the corner into a huge space right underneath the Nova cinema.
The new Brunetti is huge – the scale of the gleaming stone bench tops and cabinets laden with cakes and pastries is not to be under estimated. At the heart of the space is a raised circular platform where the baristas work their magic from multiple machines. It looks exactly like something out of the starship enterprise. It’s an altar to coffee made with Brunetti’s own blend although my favourite order at Brunetti is the rich, sticky Italian hot chocolate.
In its new location Brunetti now offers a pizza and pasta menu. Ordered Roman style by the slice the pizza is a reasonably priced lunch. The toppings come bubbling hot and the pizza has a thicker, puffier base than many pizza places around town with a slight char from Brunetti’s wood fired oven.
Unfortunately the ordering system is a complete nightmare with different methods for different areas of the store and no clear way of securing a table. For a 400 seat venue not to have its own toilet is also pretty ridiculous.
Worst of all, the pastry I tried was disappointing. The chocolate and ricotta filled cannoli ($2.20 each) had a lovely creamy filling but the pastry was stale and lacking that satisfying crack you expect. The new Brunetti is the Las Vegas of the cafe world. It impresses you by being all new and shiny but lacking in substance. By moving into what is essentially a shopping centre space Brunetti has lost some of its heart and soul.
Details: Brunetti, 380 Lygon St, Carlton, 3053 (Ph 03 9347 2801)