Keeping it old school at Brunetti Classico

Katie Johnson

Starting his day at 2.30am each morning, seven days a week, Brunetti Classico owner Fabio Angele knows firsthand what it takes to run one of Melbourne’s most iconic cafes.

From preparing the pastries to be delivered to Brunetti’s Melbourne airport sites, to setting up the Carlton restaurant in time for its 5am opening, work is constantly happening behind the scenes to ensure the high-quality offering Brunetti is known for.

“I haven’t had a day off in two years – there’s quite a lot that goes into running the business,” Mr Angele said.

A Lygon St icon since 1974, Brunetti’s has been serving coffee, traditional cakes, gelati, and savoury selections to generations of customers.

In 1991 the Angele family took over from Piero Brunetti and has since expanded the business to the CBD and Singapore.

Mr Angele said that his father Giorgio – a pastry chef who came to Melbourne as a culinary chef for the 1956 Olympic Games – was what inspired him to get into the family business.

“My family has been involved for over 30 years now, our father was a pastry chef, so my four brothers and I have been around pastry all out lives,” Mr Angele said.

“We had the opportunity to work in the family business, so I fell into it.”

Brunetti Classico in Carlton is managed by Fabio, while Brunetti Oro in the CBD is managed by his brother Yuri.

Earlier this year the branches split from each other so that Fabio could continue focusing on the Brunetti tradition of artisanal products and classic Italian dishes, while Yuri took Oro in a more modern direction.

“We’re each managing our own business. For Classico our tag is that we’re sticking to what we know best,” Mr Angele said.

“We also produce everything on site here in Carlton.”         

For the past two years, persistent lockdowns have made a huge dent in Carlton’s foot traffic.

But despite the new challenges, Mr Angele said the important thing was to keep moving forward.

“It’s difficult managing it because you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. Coming out of lockdown it’s gradually coming good but you get these blows that knock you right off your feet.”

Mr Angele said that he hoped the City of Melbourne would consider keeping the parklets to help reactivate the suburb.

“It’s such a nice atmosphere with the parklets and we want to maintain it after March – there’s more space, greenery and people are able to walk in the street more easily,” Mr Angele said.

“Back when we had our restaurant in Faraday St we worked with the council and extended the footpath back in the ‘90s which was one of the first outdoor dining areas in Melbourne.”

In terms of future plans, Mr Angele wants to open up a gelataria in the now shuttered STA Travel agency next to Classico and has a few other ideas in the works.

“Next year we’re opening up the ice cream shop which is pretty exciting, and we’ve also got another small hole in the wall in Drummond St planned,” Mr Angele said.

“Our plan is not to stand still and move forward, be positive and get going with things.”

Visit Brunetti Classico at 380 Lygon St •

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