Melbourne’s arts community are a lucky bunch. We have plenty of places exhibiting our big variety of great artists, and now there will be a new one opening up in Malvern. So enter Sagra, an art gallery, Italian restaurant and rooftop bar all rolled into one. If that doesn’t scream “Melbourne”, I don’t know does. I was lucky enough to speak with its owner Ross Chessari about the opening of his new venture and the eight years of planning it took to get to this stage.
Providing people with quality food has been something Ross and his family have been doing for many years. Ross’s parents open a deli in Brunswick back in the 1950s, when Ross was a baby, as seen on an enlarged black and white photo of his parents in the deli and holding baby Ross plastered onto the wall. He has a striking resemblance to his father, and you can tell there’s a strong sense of family pride in wanting to expand the business his parents started all those years ago, which is admirable. In fact, the walls in the restaurant are covered with art, mostly of Roman imagery. The kitchen is right in the middle of the restaurant, so one could admire the art while also watching their meal get prepared at the same time.
Ross then showed me around the rest of this lovely place, including the mezzanine floor where its art gallery is, which will exhibit the works of various Melbourne artists. He hopes to help promote local artists and their work. You can see right downstairs into the restaurant from up there; Ross wanted to take a different approach to galleries by combining the two together in what he calls “the socialisation of art”.
Those who love a good wine or chardonnay can also head up to the rooftop bar to admire the great view of Malvern while relaxing to some chill out music, especially while daylight savings is still around. It’s a nice little intimate spot for those wanting to unwind, and of course grab some of the delicious food from downstairs.
Sagra opens its big, black steel doors to the public today, and for lovers of art and Italian food, checking out Sagra is a must!
256-258 Glenferrie Road, Malvern
Originally published here at milkbarmag.com on Monday 2 February 2015