by James Ridenour
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Umberto Espresso Bar

Ciao!  Make no mistake, this is my local.  I feel like family at Umberto’s, I am welcomed, made to feel at home and even taught a bit of basic Italian.  Bellissimo!

This is the charm of this modern inner-urban cafe.  It has a bit of an old school/old country flair that makes it inviting and comfortable from the moment you walk in.  The cafe is run by father and son team Marco & Umberto. Umberto has been in the coffee business for over 30 years and he knows his stuff.  Marco has benefitted from his father’s experience and together they run one of the best cafes in Melbourne.  Without a doubt after a visit or two you will be family too.

A great cafe needs a great coffee.  Marco and Umberto meticulously pay attention to detail in order to ensure that the espresso machine is clean, the grind is right, the beans are fresh and the method is perfect.  Each coffee is dark, rich and you guessed it traditionally Italian.  Both Marco and Umberto know exactly what they are doing and their experience shows.

Now what about the food?  Nonna (Italian for Grandma) has offered up some of her authentic Italian recipes giving the menu the creed required for a cafe that caters to the Italian crowd of the inner north.  The menu is simple and hearty.  Every dish I have tried has been excellent but my stand out favourite is eggs on toast with roast capsicum served with home-baked beans and potato cakes (perfect for all you vegetarians out there).  This dish simply is the best breakfast I have had in a cafe in Melbourne.   For dinner you can dine in or take away.  They serve one of the best pasta’s in town, each choice is beautifully done, simple and delicious.  Their pasta carbonara is a favourite.

Umberto Espresso Bar is open from Wednesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner and also serves breakfast on the weekends.

A special note for anyone who enjoys a great festival.  Marco is championing the inaugural Melbourne Salami Festival which will be held on Sunday September 16th in the inner north.  The festival will showcase home-made salami with all of Melbourne’s best Italian families vying for top honours.  Come by and judge for yourself.  Italian or not, everyone will be assured of a great afternoon of food and culture.  Join me on the day, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.  For more information please visit

Umberto Espresso Bar is located at 822 High Street, Thornbury – Telephone: 03 9484 8654

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