Once the working-class heart of Melbourne’s inner north, Brunswick is fast becoming the suburb du jour for the city’s upwardly mobile residents. But despite the rash of new high-rise apartments and ambitious renovations, Brunswick still retains a bohemian charm, led by long-time business owners who have witnessed its gradual transformation.
Alfredo La Spina
Chef and owner of Bar Idda
Bar Idda is the custodian of a long Italian history in Brunswick – one that drew Alfredo La Spina to the suburb in the first place. “I opened here mainly because I liked the history with Italian immigrants,” he says. “And secondly, I always knew that the place was going to evolve into what it is today.”
Bar Idda, located along Lygon Street, is the opposite of pretentious – a Sicilian-style diner with plastic tablecloths, mismatched chairs and melamine plates – but the food is delicious and made with care.
While La Spina doesn’t have much reason to eat anywhere else, he does occasionally venture to Small Axe Kitchen, a café that serves Code Black coffee and pasta for breakfast.
When it comes to shopping for ingredients, he heads to his regular haunt of NSM Food Wholesalers on Wendel Street. Alternatively, he’ll take a wander down Sydney Road to Mediterranean Wholesalers – a cornucopia of pasta, cured meats and funky cheeses. “It’s a daily visit for me,” he reveals.