Restaurants

A (Very) Familiar St Kilda Corner Has Scored A Major Revamp—With Karen Martini Leading The Charge

By Mika Gerrish
1st Feb 2024

Saint George, a St Kilda icon is scoring a hot new Italo-centric glow-up, resurrecting this classic corner spot into a 2024 must-dine. 

You may be familiar with its past life as the Saint Hotel, as well as several more recent iterations. The spot, now in very capable hands, is being pioneered by restaurateur, chef, author and television personality, Karen Martini, who’s set to take the reins as the culinary director of the new venture. And alongside her partner in crime Michael Sapountsis, the hospitality power-couple has teamed up with PUBLIC to bring St Kilda this reinvented mainstay. 

“Saint George is a completely new and of-its-time venture for us, and a challenge to totally reinterpret a venue that has lived many lives. We’re reacquainting Melbourne with what dining in this eclectic seaside pocket can be,” Martini says. 

Saint George is a true choose-your-own-adventure. Split into halves, you’ve got a pick of The Grill which offers Italian dining consisting of primi, pasta and antipasti; and The Tavern, a walk-ins only casual experience, letting your mood dictate your night, whether you’re chasing a spontaneous outing or a planned date.  

The menu's been designed with love and sentiment in mind, plenty of dishes being some of Martini’s personal favourites to feed to family. The Tavern offers revamps of our beloved Aussie pub classics;think chicken schnitzel kissed by 17 seeds and spices. Plus there are share plates like the gnocco fritto providing a little taste of Italy for your arvo pub experience. 

“The gnocco fritto is a fried pasta dough served with parmigiano crema, parmesan and culatello, you crack a piece of gnocco fritto off, dip it into the parmigiano crema, then wrap some culatello — like prosciutto, but sweeter — around,” Martini says. 

Next door at The Grill, you’ve got an Italian-inspired and flavour-forward beef tartare that’s been fused with pickled feferoni chilli, then, blended through with chives, shallots, horseradish and finally finished with a sprinkling of parmigiano. But that’s not all Martini has provided, the self-proclaimed “star dish” is none other than a punchy paccheri marinara pasta.

“I love the way that this large shape of pasta collapses on itself and traps the fresh tomato-based ragu, made from rosé and braised octopus. We stew that for a couple of hours and then finish the pasta off with a fresh burst of seafood. It's flash-fried calamari, prawns, pipis and crab cooked in parsley, garlic and extra virgin olive oil,” Martini says. 

Saint George is open now. You'll find it nestled on the corner of Fitzroy Street and Canterbury Road in St Kilda. 

Check out more movements in Melbourne's hospitality scene here.

Image credit: Kristoffer Paulsen 

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