Rocco’s Bologna Discoteca has opened in Melbourne’s Fitzroy, defying the downturn caused by COVID-19.

The Italian inspired sandwich shop and deli is fronted by head chef Marion Wine Bar and Cumulus Inc alum Josh Fry, who will package up signature fried sandos alongside take-home meals.

Sandwich options include the Original Fried Bologna with green olive and mozzarella; the Picante, a spicy mix of fried bologna, pickles, calabrian chilli and provolone; a crumbed Melanzane vegetarian option; and a classic New York-style meatball sub with salsa verde. 

Fillings are encased in a Martin’s Famous Potato Roll, crisped up in a sandwich press.

Also on the menu is household-focused, designed for sharing. Think antipasti platters for two or four, freshly baked breads, Nonna’s special red sauce and housemade pastas.

The pop up is housed in an under-construction building that was set to welcome a new restaurant and bar. However, the pandemic put the original Easter opening on hold.

“Everything is already set up and ready to go, it’s all shiny and new. We all had a chat and thought, you know what, we can’t open a new restaurant in this current environment, it’s physically impossible,” says Fry. “But, we can do a mean takeaway shop.”

It’s the second go-round for the Discoteca concept, after a hit trial at Soulfor Wine 2019 festival in Abbotsford.

“I had the idea to make these epic fried sandwiches ages ago so when Soulfor Wine approached me to do a food concept at their festival I jumped at it,” says Fry. 

“I had been working for the last seven years or so in fine dining, so with Rocco’s I just wanted to do something fun that you can grab with your hands and get messy with. It’s like Italian Maccas.” 

The pop up is here to fill a need during the Victorian government’s Stage 3 COVID-19 restrictions — it’ll never be dine in, but that’s not holding Fry back.

“It’s a strange time to be launching a venue without a physical space for people to experience but we are up for the challenge,” says Fry. “It means we have to be creative and flexible and put up a really solid product that people want to order again and again.” 

Rocco’s Bologna Discoteca is located at 81–83 Gertrude St Fitzroy and is open Wednesday to Friday 5pm–10.30pm, Saturday 12pm–10.30pm and Sunday 1pm–7pm. Pick up is available, as is delivery through DoorDash, Deliveroo or directly from the venue.


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