This Italian wine bar does rustic and glamorous in equal measure, with batched Negronis and comforting polpette to boot.

The mood here may scream Fitzroy or Collingwood, but many who’ve already fallen under this wine bar’s spell would say they’re transported as much to Melbourne as to Taormina, Positano or Perugia. Without the view, of course. But who needs a view when you’re curled up in an elegant, softly lit cucina sipping Italian drops from a blackboard menu and grazing on rustic dishes designed for comfort.

The sweet spot here is perched at the long table that winds sensuously into the open kitchen where chef Christopher Caravella plates up the likes of polpette and fried cannoli stuffed with chicken-liver pâté. Service is casual to suit the menu, with a team of multitaskers (a waiter might double as pastaiolo) leaning on chutzpah above anything.

The sweet spot here is perched at the long table that winds sensuously into the open kitchen where chef Christopher Caravella plates up the likes of polpette and fried cannoli stuffed with chicken-liver pâté.

On the food side, a panko-crumbed cotoletta, the size of a small pizza, is simple but effective, as is braised oxtail on polenta, while dessert might consist of tiramisù or a slice of semifreddo dressed simply with fruit. But the glamour set, who add their own window dressing to the streetscape, turn up as much for the tone, retro-classic soundtrack and wine list as they do for the menu.

Things have changed slightly since a full-on opening last October, with lockdown seeing a focus on tin-foil takeaway and reopening forcing a shift in emphasis towards wine and house-batched Negronis. The room is still capped at 24, but if there’s a light on, and a spare seat, there’s almost a guarantee of a party. Go on in.