Authentic Italian cuisine and down-home Italian hospitality have landed on Russel Street with the launch of Connie’s Diner.
Originally established in 2017 as Connie’s Pizza as part of Melbourne’s favourite rock n roll bar Heartbreaker, owners Michael and Zara Madrusan have expanded the hole-in-the-wall joint to a full-fledged eatery dishing up authentic Italian dishes inspired by Michael’s grandmother, Consuelo.
Stepping into Connie’s is like stepping into a 1980’s NYC Italian diner time capsule. Red vinyl booths line the walls separated by red and white checked cloth draped tables. A black and white Italian projection plays on the wall of the main dining room. Turn the corner and you’ll find a livelier dancefloor area complete with disco light and jukebox. Outside there’s a quaint rooftop terrazza surrounded by greenery, giving way to CBD views.
Head Chef Matteo D’Elia has done an exceptional job creating a drool-worthy authentic menu with a few modern twists. You’ll find veal tonnato, eggplant parmigiana, Bad Nonna’s lasagna; Sunday Sauce – a Sunday ragu, served family-style; Connie’s famous Grandma-style pizzas; a selection of salads; and a tiramisu-based sundae.
The bar is focused on quick service without sacrificing quality with a range of on-tap and bottled cocktails.
Much of Connie’s has been inspired by Michael’s childhood, growing up in New York City, spending nearly all of his time in family restaurants. Every aspect of the décor has been carefully considered – from the retro 80’s posters on the walls, the selection of Motown albums in the jukebox, the tropical fish tank in the corner, the lazy Susan’s (paying homage to the venue’s China town location). Even Michaels personal spoon collection is featured (and it is rather substantial!)
“The Connie’s concept is grounded in a love of traditional home cooking and a feel-good, warm and welcoming atmosphere, an inspiration of mine from growing up in an Italian family where generosity and food is what brings everyone together,” says Michael.
Dining at Connie’s is certainly an experience. Between the eclectic and nostalgic décor, the oversized family style platters of ragu and the carefully crafted cocktails, Connie’s is an indulgence for all the senses.
– Ember Mitchell
Ember is an American turned Aussie. Her love affair with Melbourne goes back five years, and she still can’t get enough of this city! Discovering new hideouts and hidden gems around Melbourne is her hobby. Marketing Strategist by day, spontaneous adventurer, brekky enthusiast, and aerial acrobat by night.
Connie’s Italian Diner & Rooftop Terrazza
Upstairs 234B Russell Street, Melbourne
directly above Heartbreaker
Opening hours: Wednesday – Saturday, 5pm until late
Stepping into Connie’s is like stepping into a 1980’s Italian time capsule. Dinning at Connie’s is an experience for all the senses.