In a surprisingly short period of time the long lived Mr Juice, a scruffy juice and pho place on Smith St, has disappeared and been replaced with Prego Amico (rough translation ‘you’re welcome, friends’), a cheap and cheerful generic Italian cafe. Can this work? I’d be surprised it if did.
Italian food is somewhat out of fashion at the moment. Like the closure of many of the old cheap Indian places in Fitzroy in the past few years, there’s been a decline in Italian food. Apart from the success of pizza places like 400 Gradi in Melbourne, it’s seemingly not what people want.
Smith St is predominately Asian fusion now – Japanese, Korean, Chinese dumplings and fusion venues (such as Easy Tiger and Northern Light), although there have been a couple of departures (Lee Ho Fook moving into the CBD and Yim Yam closing). I think this is a misstep.