How I Melbourne: Guy Grossi

Published on 22 October 2019

Photo: Chef and restaurateur Guy Grossi

Guy Grossi knows a thing or two about legacies. He not only inherited one from his chef father Pietro (and the rest of the food-loving family), he’s also created his own over decades championing Italian food and wine in Melbourne, whether on TV, in his cookbooks or at his many venues. Most notable among these is Grossi Florentino on Bourke Street, which the Grossi family purchased in 1999, acquiring one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the city and almost 70 years of history.

Never one to rely solely on reputation, Grossi continues to keep his team (and family) on its toes. Now in the fourth decade of his career, his recent projects include opening late-night laneway bar Arlechin in 2017, a foray into street-food with Pezzo on Flinders Lane, and taking the Grossi magic cross-country with the opening of Garum in Perth last year. Crowned a Legend by Melbourne Food & Wine Festival in 2017, Grossi now splits his time across eight restaurants as well as devoting energy to the Starlight Foundation and the HEAT training program for young people, of which he is a patron.

I know I’m in Melbourne when I hear the ting-ting-ting! of a tram making its way down Bourke Street.

My first defining food moment in Melbourne was when my dad took me to Cellar Bar at Florentino for a bowl of pasta. We sat at the bar and it was when I fell in love with the place and food in general in Melbourne. It’s such an honour to continue the legacy that is Florentino. Our family have been operating it for 20 years now and we never take for granted the privilege that comes with it.

The best new thing I’ve found is using the park outside the MCG as a playground for my dog when it’s not game day. It’s got beautiful lawns and dogs can go off-lead.

When I want to push the boat out on a meal, I go toFrance-Soir, order everything I love and then pick a few bottles of extraordinary Burgundy to go with it. And when I say everything, I mean everything: double entrée, some things to share between entrée and main, then main course, dessert and cheese to finish. The snails, the brains and the tartare are essential dishes for me.

There’s no better value in Melbourne than a Bunnings sausage on a Saturday morning.

And when I want to dazzle friends from out of town, I like to take them somewhere beautiful and refined, but still relaxed, like Matilda 159 Domain. The food is simple but elegant. It’s the kind of place you can keep going back to and enjoy every time. Or we’ll head out of Melbourne and go to Geelong to visit Igni. Aaron Turner’s food is not only unique, it’s executed in an extremely elegant way. Each dish has been so well thought-out to create an unbelievable dining experience. Plus the front-of-house team always make you feel like you’re at home with them. It’s a beautiful place to spend your time.

In the mornings you’ll find me at the Cellar Bar having my morning coffee. Or if it’s a weekend I’m probably with my pup Maximus on a walk to get breakfast or coffee somewhere dog-friendly, like Patch in Richmond or Mavis the Grocer in Abbotsford.

 My local changes depending on whether I’m working or at home. I love to head to Kenzan for Japanese after finishing work or, if I’m close to home, we often go to The Royston for a great pub meal. I always opt for the steak and hasselback potatoes. Who doesn't love a hasselback?

If I could change one thing about eating and drinking here it would be fewer things that try to be cool for the sake of it. Eating out is about creating an experience for your guests, not creating something that is just Instagrammable.

 But the one thing I hope never changes in Melbourne is how we have access to all kinds of food, cuisines and concepts at so many different levels.

Take a look at all things Grossi-flavoured over at grossi.com.au and stay up to date with Guy’s cooking and travel adventures on Instagram: @guygrossi