Rushcutters Bay goes Roman with MARTA  

rolled pork, zuchini flowers and crackling

Flavio Carnevale, owner of Rushcutters Bay’s sleekest Italian restaurant Popolo, is reversing his trajectory and heading home for inspiration for his next culinary venture – the upcoming Rome-inspired MARTA.

Set to open mid-September, MARTA aims to emulate the vibrancy of Rome’s culture in every aspect of its operation. The restaurant will occupy the place previously taken over by Popolo, which is moving to a more urban location as Flavio remarks it has “a formality to it that’s better suited to the city,” while MARTA intends to have a more casual and inclusive vibe.

portrait of flavio in blue shirt

Flavio Carnevale. Image: Alan Benson

With a layout designed by Melbourne’s award winning DesignOffice, the restaurant will seamlessly blend indoor and outdoor décor, supported by new feature lighting and a brighter neutral palette, culminating in a refreshing outdoor courtyard.

Flavio was careful to make sure the details of the architecture and décor mimicked that of a ‘neighbourhood osteria’, where, due to the diversity of Roman culture, “it’s common to find a politician beside a student.”

“We are creating a space that has something for everyone – a communal table for big families, intimate tables for couples, a bar area for drop-ins, and a courtyard for those who want to enjoy the sun,” says Flavio.

stuff tomato on plate

Pomodoro Riepieno – stuffed baked tomato with vialone nano, olives, capers and potato. Image: Alan Benson

Dishes from the dazzling new open-style kitchen come with a definitively tapered focus, featuring delights such as baked anchovies with sautéed curly endive, bucatini mussels tomato and pecorino, tonnarelli (thick spaghetti) cacio e pepe, abbacchio alla scottadito (lamb cutlets) and filetti di baccalà (cod fillet).

crumbed small logs of rice

Suppli – crumbed fried rice, mince and mozzarella balls. Image: Alan Benson

The Roman flavor of this place is evident in everything – from the daily house specials to the new bar offering with high-topped tables and a spritz bar-inspired drinks list that emulates the atmosphere of Rome’s drinking holes. MARTA also features Amphora wines as an important link back to its heritage, poured from Flavio’s custom handmade terracotta decanters to give them a truly authentic feel.

“MARTA represents the evolution of my life,” Flavio says. “Popolo was my childhood upbringing in Basilicata, while MARTA is my Roman adulthood where the first decade of my restaurant and bar career began.”

Though the official opening date is yet to be revealed, renovations will begin when Popolo closes August 13, with MARTA expected to open mid-September. 

50 McLachlan Ave, Rushcutters Bay 2010
Tue-Sat 5pm-5:30pm, Sun 9am-late