Caroline Street South Yarra has been transformed with the arrival of Bar Carolina, and the more recent additions Cantina Carolina and Tetto di Carolina (the latter translated to ‘roof terrace’). The distinctly Italian dining and bar experience has become a local destination for those wanting everything from fine dining to a simple latte. “It was created for the local community as much as for those who don’t mind getting in their cars,” says Joey Dee, one of the owners of Tetto di Carolina.

Although Tetto di Carolina and the two venues downstairs are separately owned, there’s a strong design ‘thread’ that runs through the ‘veins’ of each of them. Created by the award-winning designer Chris Connell who is responsible for a number of bars and cafes across Melbourne there is a sense of simplicity and elegance in all three (the lower two venues are seamlessly connected through the materials and colour palette used).  They include terrazzo floors, customised steel shelves to display wine bottles, and comfortable chairs, the type that allows one to linger well after the dinner plates are removed.

Although the restaurant accommodates approximately 80 people and the adjacent café comfortably sits 40, many choose to dine on the pavement, adding to that unique Italian feel. Those looking for a different experience, also Italian in feel, head upstairs to Tetto di Carolina. At the top of a steep rise of treads you’ll find a cocoon-like space complete with a snug curvaceous concrete-lined ceiling. There’s the option of sitting at the unique custom-tiled bar, sharing a drink and food in the dining area, with its high smoky grey velvet banquette seating or, alternatively, enjoy watching the strollers pass by along Toorak Road. “Everything here is bespoke,” says Dee, pointing out the onyx set into the granite floor tiles.

Connell also made the most of the outdoor spaces, in addition to the pavement seating. There’s a rear outdoor terrace for Bar Carolina and a generous outdoor terrace, orientated to the north for Tetto di Carolina. With its retractable arched roof, patrons can easily move between indoors and out. And to further blur these divisions, granite tiles also appear on the terrace, along with tables to rest one’s drink.

For Connell, whose brief came largely from Joe Mammone (owner of Il Bacaro), the look was for a more relaxed and informal dining experience. “He wanted something that had that buzzy Italian feel, from the staff who greet you to the pure and fresh Italian food that’s served,” says Connell. However, after the completion of Bar Carolina, the other venues also needed to have their own identity. Tetto di Carolina, for example, features rust steel walls and rust- coloured joinery.

Connell puts the success of the three venues down to ‘materiality’ and ‘informality’. “The idea is that you can go to the same address at different times and feel a distinct ambience in each area,” says Connell, pointing out the various configurations just in Bar Carolina alone. “You feel like you’re always in a different place, something that’s important in hospitality projects,” adds Connell. 

Text by Stephen Crafti
Banner image courtesy of Kristoffer Paulsen 

Tetto Interiors. Image courtesy of Earl Carter

Tetto Interiors. Image courtesy of Earl Carter


Tetto Interiors. Image courtesy of Kristoffer Paulsen

Tetto Interiors. Image courtesy of Kristoffer Paulsen

Tetto Interiors. Image courtesy of Kristoffer Paulsen

Tetto Interiors. Image courtesy of Kristoffer Paulsen

Lifestyle & Design

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