Rocco’s Bologna Discoteca has gained a cult-like following for its hot Italian sandwiches, pasta, salumi and other Italian specialties and now has a permanent home on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy.
Rocco’s first gained its popularity during the pandemic, while sister venue, Poodle Bar & Bistro were still getting a fit out. The team decided to have a “pop-up” kitchen in the space and offered the now signature meatball subs and fried-bologna sandwiches to takeaway. Once restrictions eased and the demand for sandwiches grew, owners Zoë Rubino, Emilio Scalzo and Josh Fry decided that Rocco’s deserved a long-term destination.
The Gertrude Street location has been transformed with rich amber-wood details and curtain-covered windows. The twostorey space pays homage to old-world Italian trattorias, with cosy booths separated by curtains and a sprawling open kitchen. Outside is a leafy European-inspired courtyard and a bar stocked with a ton of Italian liqueurs. The team wanted the venue to feel fun, warm and like it had been there forever with lots of nods to Nonna’s house. Rocco’s engaged Ineke Hutter of Studio Co & Co for the design, after Hutters stunning Poodle fit out.
While the hot Italian sandwiches are a highlight of the daytime menu, the trattoria evening menu includes a variety of Italian classics such as handmade pastas, a must try Bistecca Alla Fiorentina dish and a selection of salumi made in house. Josh Fry (ex-Marion and Cumulus Inc), head chef of both Rocco’s and Poodle has the perfect dish to end the night with a pistachio soft serve. Rocco’s is offering a late-night menu until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays where the meatball sub returns and is accompanied by several other moreish dishes including a Trippa Alla Romana.
The beverage menu ebbs and flows with the seasons, with the team making a variety of traditional limoncellos, amaro liqueurs, aperitifs and grappas in-house while experimenting with variations of ‘backyard’ recipes. Some examples include green almond and wild fennel amaro, finger lime limoncello, and peach and a rosemary grappa just to name a few.
Owner Emilio describes Rocco’s as lighthearted and relaxed. “We just hope guests and staff have fun in the space, and that Rocco’s triggers nostalgic memories of Italian trattorias from Melbourne’s past,” Emilio explains.
Rocco’s Bologna Discoteca
Location: 15 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Hours: Wed & Sun: 12pm – 4pm // Thurs – Sat: 12pm – Late
Image credit: Rocco’s Bologna Discoteca