Joe Mammone is busy. In the past couple of weeks, the restaurateur has closed and commenced renovations on his Melbourne CBD restaurant Sarti, and opened two venues in the South Yarra: Tetto di Carolina, a luxurious rooftop lounge bar up above, and Cantina Carolina down below, both of which are located next door to Italian restaurant Bar Carolina. So he's forgiven for postponing renovations of his other business, the much-loved Il Bacaro, until early next year.
"You don't plan on all this happening at the same time, but it sometimes just works out that way," says Mammone. "But I'm all about attention to detail – I want things to be exactly right – so sometimes that means it takes longer than you intended."
The attention to detail is on full show at Tetto di Carolina (tetto meaning roof in Italian). It starts overhead with the curved awning – it's retractable and weatherproof – that Mammone imported from Turkey and runs to bespoke details like caramel porcelain tiles, and a six-metre walnut bar with walnut barstools to match.
Tetto works as a stylish holding area for the often-packed Bar Carolina downstairs, but its strong drink and food lists, luxurious good looks, table service and Sunday live jazz sessions ensure that the bar is a destination in itself.
Cocktails, like the Florence Revival (Melbourne Gin Company Single Shot gin with fennel flowers and lemon), have been created by British bartender Alex Dyzart (London's Bar Three) and share list-space with a short, sharp collection of European and Australian wine and a 50-strong whisky offering.
Food from Bar Carolina executive chef Matteo Tine leans European and runs the full modern bar-food gamut from inventive snacks (duck-liver parfait cannoli) to heftier options like lamb ribs and grilled wagyu.
Tetto di Carolina's flexible menu approach will be repeated when Sarti reopens in October. Mammone believed the Russell Place site needed a revamp, and has ordered a full refurbishment to reflect the energy and attitude of the staff who work there, with a new name to match: Marameo, after the Italian gesture of thumbing one's nose.
"It's going to be fun, cheeky and playful," says Mammone. "It's all about having a good time, kicking on, having that extra drink. And we're finally going to give the outside terrace the attention it deserves and turn it into a destination in itself."
With plush luxury in South Yarra and cheeky good times in the city, Mammone is determined to cover all bases. No wonder he's busy.
Tetto di Carolina, Level 1, 48 Toorak Rd, South Yarra, Vic, 3141, (03) 9867 7954 tettodicarolina.com.au. Open Wed 4-11pm, Thu 4pm-1am, Fri and Sat 2pm-1am, Sun 2-11pm.