Neighbourhood pasta bar spreading the southern Italian love

Super Norma Carlton

Dive into the world of Super Norma; the Italian pasta bar that’s shaking things up on the Rathdowne St strip with southern Italian-inspired dishes served in takeaway noodle boxes.

Friends and business partners, Luca Muscato (Palermo) and Marco Salzano (Napoli), arrived in Melbourne from Italy nearly five years ago before meeting through their first project together, Disco Mediterranea.

“I had the idea to do a pasta bar because I like interacting with people, but chefs are always in the back,” Marco said.

“I like to meet new people and share my passion about the cooking – I like, when I cook, to explain what I’m doing and why I’m doing it and what’s all behind it.”

Formerly the home of Tanaka Café and Grocer, the pair discovered the empty space through their friends a few doors down at Fenton Farmhouse.

Opening as a pop-up in June last year, Super Norma has quickly evolved into a local favourite, with Italo-disco vinyl always spinning.

“It’s been very casual for it to happen here in Carlton, the Italian suburb of Melbourne – people have really supported us,” Marco told Inner City News.



Super Norma serves up regional dishes from mainly southern Italian roots that the pair grew up eating, with the exception of the Burro Cacio e Pepe as their most northern dish.

For Marco, the Ragú Napoletano is a must-try, which involves slow-cooking nine different cuts of meat for seven hours in tomato sauce with various seasonings, basil, parmigiano and pecorino with rigatoni.

“It’s a memory dish – every family does their own version, but this is my family’s version,” he said.


I grew up with my Nonna, and every Sunday she woke up at 5am to make it – I remember waking up and there was the smell of ragù, my breakfast was dipping bread into the sauce.


Luca’s favourite? The Super Norma – a spin on the classic Pasta alla Norma.

“We deep-fry eggplant that gets cooked in tomato sauce, and then ricotta salata on top – we both bring a little of our upbringing into the food.”

In addition to the main menu, Luca and Marco also champion other cuisines through weekly specials, such as their recent Middle Eastern-inspired dish.

Boasting good vibes and casual service, Luca and Marco are always up for a chat, making everyone – Carlton regulars or curious visitors – feel a part of their little Italian family.

“I think we fit a missing part of Carlton, there’s not really a place that represents us or Italy as it is now - I’m very grateful that we can represent that part.”

Now open five days a week, the team is looking forward to welcoming more guests to pull up a seat on the bar.

Super Norma is located at 140 Rathdowne St and is open Monday and Thursday from 4pm to 9pm, Friday and Saturday from 12pm to 9pm, and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm, but times are always flexible (check Instagram or their front door for changes). •

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