Marta opens in former Popolo site

09 October, 2017 by
Madeline Woolway

Cucina Romana Marta will open its doors on Tuesday 10 October, taking over the space that was previously occupied by Popolo for five years.

The new restaurant sees owner-operator Flavio Carnevale shift focus from southern Italy to Rome, with the menu showcasing the history, Jewish influence and geography of the Italian capital. The recipes and settimana romana — a weekly calendar of daily specials — are drawn from Carnevale’s 10-year residency in Rome, with head chef Christuan Jordaan leading the kitchen.

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Dishes featured on the menu include Suppli, crumbed and fried rice, mince and mozzarella croquettes; Carciofo alla Giudia, fried globe artichokes; wood-fired Roman pizza such as the De’fiori, with buffalo mozzarella, zucchini flowers, anchovies, and Grana Padano; Tiella Gaetana, thin pizza layers filled with baby calamari ragout; Gricia, bombolotti short tube pasta with guanciale, pancetta, black pepper and pecorino Romano; Scottadito, lamb tomahawk and spicy chicory; and Crostata di ricotta e visciole, baked ricotta sour cherry tart.

The wine list highlights the current generation of winemakers from Rome and central Italy. By the glass, diners will find Laziali grape varieties sourced by Carnevale and unique to Marta such as bombino bianco from L’Olivella; biodynamic thymos bianco from Monti Cecubi; and organic malvasia puntinata from Pampini.

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Select wines will be poured from custom handmade amphora decanters from Studio Enti and Little White Dish.

Cocktails and snacks will be on offer at the sleek wrap-around zinc bar, featuring a number of boutique Italian vermouth, bitters and gin for Marta’s range of spritz and negroni.

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Carnevale’s experiences working in Rome have also influenced the venue’s aesthetic with Melbourne’s DesignOffice curating a diverse fit-out. A long communal table is suited to large groups and celebrations, while intimate tables and bar seating provide for everyday dining and drop-in guests. The space, which also features a sun-lit courtyard, incorporates a raw, natural aesthetic and a mix of leather, oak and green marble.

“We wanted to capture the confidence and energy of Roman restaurants,” says designer Mark Simpson. “The interior has been opened up and layered with a fresh, textural and tactile palette punctuated with accents in black and olive green. One of the major new features is a beautiful oak-topped high bench lined with forest green Italian marble, which faces the leafy piazza.”

Popolo is slated to re-open in a new CBD location in late-2018.