Ciao Cielo — Melbourne, Australia
When restaurant owners Kate and Bryan Dickens – she runs the front of house, he is the chef – decided to move their beloved local restaurant to a bigger space they may not have envisioned it would take two years.
With the guidance of design studio Atelier Wagner, they slowly transformed a heritage-listed former courthouse in Port Melbourne into a warm yet lofty space. They’ve retained the cracked sandstone walls, baltic pine floors and timber rafters and added crackling fireplace, flowing organza drapes, marble bar and muted blue leather banquettes for a contemporary edge.
The form of the room is reflected in the menu, which offers a modern take on traditional Italian dishes. Start with the likes of stracciatella given an update with caramel popcorn and parmesan, before moving on to risotto with local prawns and marjoram gremolata or Sardinian-style goat with polenta dumplings, olive and fennel. The signature dish, however, is the one-kilogram bistecca alla fiorentina (t-bone from Chianina cattle) meant to be shared.§