'The Florentino' is one of Melbourne's most famous and enduring restaurants. Generations of Australians have met, conversed, done deals and partied within its impressive surroundings.
This history of the Florentino is intertwined with Melbourne's history, and with the history of Italian migration to Australia and its influence on local culture and eating habits. Beginning in 1900 as a wine cafe at the wrong end of town, it developed into a fine dining establishment that became the place to be seen. One of the first cafes in Melbourne to offer espresso coffee and homemade pasta, what became Grossi Florentino is now considered the city's best Italian restaurant. Its clientele has included prime ministers and politicians, corporate leaders, artists, writers, musicians, journalists and socialites, many of whom share their memories and anecdotes in these pages.