First Look: The Grand Richmond’s Cheeky, Playful Sibling Piccolo Grand Moves In

Written for Broadsheet

Responsible. Reliable. Always winning hearts. The traits of the eldest child mirror those of one of Melbourne’s classic pubs, The Grand Richmond. After closing for renovations earlier this year, the corner site – known for its cosy private dining room and elevated Italian cuisine – has reopened. And now it’s got a cheeky, playful younger sibling: Piccolo Grand.

At the end of a narrow laneway around the side of the building, Piccolo Grand is a colourful eatery with a fit-out inspired by Milan and Rome in the 1950s, by interior designer Christo Gillard.

Outside, a leafy beer garden wraps around the dining room. Inside, the panelled ceiling forms the canvas for a series of red, green and mustard-coloured graphics. Wide olive-green banquettes invite lingering, and a series of Roman-style illustrations complement a quieter nook.

“It’s sort of like a Vespa,” co-owner Barnie Bouchaud says of the space. “It’s got beautiful sleek lines, but it’s got a little bit of style and fun to it as well.”

Head chef Andrew Beddoes oversees the kitchen. Dishes speak to the pub’s late owner and chef Valerio Nucci, who, prior to founding The Grand in 2003, spent many years in the kitchen at Melbourne institution Cafe Di Stasio.

Nucci was known for his vincisgrassi lasagne, a specialty dish from the Marche region on the east coast of Italy. It layers sheets of pasta with beef, chicken livers and lamb brains, and here it’s a true standout. Find it alongside a rotating list of handmade pastas and a swathe of rosse (red sauce) and bianche (white sauce) pizzas. Pub classics include The Grand Parma and a one-kilogram dry-aged T-bone steak.

Pizza dough endures 60 hours of cold fermentation. It’s then hand-stretched and cooked in an imported Moretti Forni double-decker oven. One is topped with roasted pumpkin, pancetta and walnuts; another with hand-crushed tomatoes, ‘nduja (salami paste) and fior di latte. There’s a container of light chilli oil on every table, but heat-seekers can request a special elixir of house-made chilli oil crafted from the world’s hottest pepper, the Carolina Reaper. You’ve been warned.

If you have room for dessert, go for the mascarpone-filled doughnuts with homemade espresso ice-cream.

From 5pm to 6pm every day, Apertivo Hour kicks in – you can get an Amaro, spritz, pint of beer or glass of wine for $10, with a bar snack (such as olives or salted almonds) included. From 9pm to 10pm, during Digestivo Hour, a selection of $10 drinks might include a Limoncello Tart cocktail or a Tiramisu Martini.

All the restaurant’s food waste is processed using the pub’s composting machine from Closed Loop Organics, which can convert 100 kilograms of waste into 10 kilograms of compost in 24 hours.

“Then I crazily load that into my car and drive it down to the Peninsula … we’re putting it on our farm garden up there and in our vineyards,” says Bouchaud. “I just love the circle of life, of things that are food-waste here becoming compost that then grows more food for here.”

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