The cathedral-like interior of Piccolino, a family-owned pizza restaurant in the suburbs of Melbourne, has been 25 years in the making. Having acquired the lands adjoining the long-running 20-seat pizzeria, the client asked local studio Hachem to extend and redesign the restaurant which can now accommodate up to 70 diners.

Nestled between two adjoining buildings, the site is just under 6 m wide. Alongside a modest budget and strict council regulations, this created challenges for the architects, who wanted to create a ‘dramatic result’. By opening up the triple-height space, the studio was able to introduce volume to the interior and add a mezzanine level to visually extend the building’s length. At the heart of the scheme is the matte-black wood-fired pizza oven; its organic form tapering into a chimney that pierces through the peaked roof. The openness of the kitchen connects the front- and back-of-house areas to create a dining experience that involves guests in the act of pizza making.

Top: From the outside, the restaurant glows like a beacon, emulating the inside of a hot pizza oven. | Middle:  The structural steel frame, skylight and timber panelling act as much as decoration as architectural elements. | Bottom: Stairs of custom hand-forged metal lead to the mezzanine in the cathedral-like interior.

‘The architecture of the steel frame, glazing and luminous timber is the restaurant’s own decor,’ the designers say. ‘The warm glow that emanates through the shear glass facade conveys a sense of welcome and openness, it draws passers-by in, making the building itself the billboard for Piccolino.’

This project was featured in the latest volume of our hospitalty-design series, Night Fever 6. Get your copy here.