Pizzeria Da Bruno Is Richmond’s New Multi-Level Italian Bistro And Rooftop

By Simon Cassar

A simple concrete shopfront shot during the day from the street.

It's a simple concrete shopfront in Richmond, by no means does the small Pirelli-style sign jutting out from the doorway provide an inkling of the towering Italian bistro, bar and rooftop that lie within. 

Pizzeria Da Bruno on Swan Street is the new opening from owner Michael Koutroulis and general manager Sarah Subbiah both of Santoni in Hawthorn. 

Accommodating up to 250 diners, the restaurant which opened last month spans five levels. It features its own New York-inspired basement bar, a bistro and mezzanine dining level, two rooftops as well as two private dining spaces—with one that could be lifted directly out of a Franco Cozzo catalogue. 

A project that started back in 2019, every inch of the former flooring building has been completely rebuilt with custom-poured concrete transforming it into a high-ceiling gallery-esque space. "it was long and it was crazy," Michael exclaims reflecting on the process.

A contrast to your conventional warm, timber and wood-laden trattorias, Da Bruno's concrete heavy space definitely inhabits more of a more brutalist northern Italian feel, "It was actually inspired by our trip to Milan, specifically a restaurant named Da Bruno from the 1930s near the Duomo, it's a very nostalgic place, it was a spot for all the soccer players in the heyday— it's very Milanese."

The ground-level bar and bistro is an impressive collection of long curved lines, concrete booth tables and an almost 10-metre-high ceiling, down past the bar an imported Marana wood-fired oven from Italy fills out the kitchen. 

Menu-wise, it's a pretty extensive list of staple dishes, the type of options that instantly resonate from woodfired pizzas like a white-based Gamberi with prawns, chilli, parsley and mozzarella to a Sedani Rigati pasta with a rich ragu. 

"We really just wanted to do classics really well, Marinara, Bolognese, Margherita...good quality ingredients with all the produce sourced locally...I would say that we're not trying to reinvent the wheel, we're just doing old-style good portions, comfort style," says Sarah and Michael.    

The menu is available across the levels with the first two floors operating as the main dining room spaces and the initial rooftop as a more relaxed environment "it's got a bit more of a casual pub feel," says Sarah. 

There are bars located throughout, from the rooftop to the main dining and finally in the basement. The drinks list is almost as comprehensive as the food menu, with whole sections dedicated to Apperitivo, martinis and general cocktails as well as a tidier collection of wines and beer. 

Again nailing the standards is the modus operandi here and the staples like the Negroni with Antica Formula vermouth, the Amaro Montenegro spritz, and the Martini Da Bruno with a Campari twist are dialled into an incredible standard. 

The charm of Da Bruno is in the sheer diversity of its offering, once you've traversed the upper levels tackle the stairs or the elevator to the downstairs bar. 

The basement bar is a revelatory collection of nostalgia pulled straight from early New York bistros or classical Italian Enotecas. Every corner of the bar has been considered right down to the neon sign overhead and the white-jacketed wait and bar staff which the duo proclaim were inspired by their own personal favourite Melbourne venues such as Di Stasio, Siglo Bar and France Soir. 

The late-night space came as part of Sarah and Michael's own desires for a venue, "for us working in hospitality for so long, every time we want to go and eat after work there's just nowhere to go—we wanted to create somewhere people can in at any time," says Sarah.  

With a kitchen open to 11pm, the downstairs bar is the only departure from Italian cuisine with only two menu items to choose from; freshly shucked oysters and the signature house cheeseburger. 

Pizzeria Da Bruno is open now, head over here for more. 

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Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis

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