Picture a lasagne, then take away the gluten, replace the dairy with a creamy vegan sauce and swap the mince for an eggplant—is it still Italian? Hell yes it is. And it’s damn good. Say hello to BIO, the newest addition to Carlton’s bustling foodie scene by the team behind DOC. With now four venues to their name in the suburb, BIO is a fabulous installation for the DOC Group’s Carlton takeover, not to mention a worthy replacement to the iconic venue which formerly housed The Town Mouse.
The time has come for coeliacs to rejoice. BIO is a new vegetarian, vegan and entirely gluten-free restaurant making Italian food accessible to even the most challenging of diets. But make no mistake, there’s no sacrifice on the flavour front. Even if you’re someone who loves a steak, we promise you won’t miss it when you tuck into a feed at BIO.
Just the menu is enough to get the taste buds tingling. Allow us to give you a sample—mini eggplant parmigiana with black cabbage pesto and Burrata, Buffalo ricotta and spinach balls with burnt butter and crispy sage, Beetroot Caserecce with mushrooms and truffle paste. Feeling hungry yet? Us too. But make sure you leave room for dessert because the vegan tiramisu with cashew cream is a must. In true Italian-style hospitality, you’ll never go home on an empty stomach.
These flavours are inspired by the traditional cooking that restaurant owner Michael Costanzo grew up with, harking back to the simple yet heartfelt meals his mum and nonna used to make. But the venue is not quite so traditional, with Studio Ström taking the reins on the design. The original concrete floor remains under the brand new, custom furniture and soft neon lighting. And there’s also a terrace for those al fresco wine nights we know you love.
Speaking of wine nights, the bar is perfectly poised to host you and your plus one. The wine list features plenty of natural Italian wines including a Tuscan pét-nat and an Umbrian trebbiano, to name just a few highlights. They’ve also got vegan cocktails and a concise but carefully curated beer list—the only place you’ll find a cheeky bit of gluten on the menu.
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Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis