By Renee Imbesi


Warning: Reservoir is not that cool. Yet. There are no cute cafés in laneways and we only get live music once a year during the True North Festival. But if there is one thing Reservoir is really good at, it’s originality. You won’t have to pay much for it and you might have an unexpected cultural experience as well – but not the hipster kind. Here are five reasons to travel further north than Northcote (and Thornbury and Preston. And Regent).

(Hint: If you are visiting from faraway suburbs, or from the east side of the train line, try pronouncing ‘Reservoir’ in a way that rhymes with ‘galore’ – not ‘galah’ – and you’ll make the locals smile.)


1.  Lady Bower Kitchen

1a Marchant Ave.

This café lives in a quiet side street off Broadway and feels like an oasis, especially on Sundays when everything else in Reservoir is either closed or asleep in the gutter. Lady Bower does fantastic food at low prices including all-day breakfast, simple lunches, a fun selection of drinks, and lots of pretty little cakes. The staff is super friendly; they are patient and conversational with children, and they seem genuinely delighted when you say yes okay, you will try their scones. Don’t bother knocking on a Monday – it’s their day off – and please nobody order the meatballs or salted caramel milkshake…they are mine, all mine.


2.  DiMattina Coffee

126 Edwardes St

Blink and you could miss this unassuming café just a few blocks from the main shopping strip, offering wholesale coffee and accessories, a selection of Italian groceries and a handful of tables for the locals. The hot chocolate is divine and the snacks are fresh, and on top of that the friendly staff know there is a difference between a babyccino and a good ol’ cup of warm milk for the toddler. Just like you can’t choose your family, the DiMattina family probably didn’t choose their neighbours – across the car park sits the Black and Blue clothing store, helping to keep the quality hoodie alive in Reservoir (and also the insinuation of violence). No matter; the barista has a warm welcome for everyone and creates the feeling that you’re lounging about with old friends while you wait for your morning coffee.


3.  DM Deli

35 McFadzean Ave

In a tiny shopping strip where nothing really happens all day, this deli makes the best sandwiches on the planet. In another deli in another northern suburb, their creations might be called ciabatta or a focaccia or even an open grill, but here it is just a “sandwich” and it’s bigger than a brickie’s forearm. Take your pick from a dazzling array of soft and hard cheeses, olives, pickles, roasted vegies and cold cuts that include prosciutto and “XXX hot salami”. There are a couple of tables and about three chairs to choose from if you want to sit down for lunch, which allows you to chat to the staff about their divine gift for sandwich-making and will also win you a few friendly nods from the early drinkers as they head to the liquor store out back.


4.  Reservoir SUPA IGA

26-30 Edwardes St

There’s more ‘IGA’ than ‘SUPA’ in this house of goodies if you ask me, because it’s all how the locals like it – the locals being Italian, of course. The soap section, for example, boasts row upon bright blue row of Felce Azzura with a few sad packets of Imperial Leather thrown in to the bottom shelf. You’ll have to search hard for your garden variety soft drinks, but there are endless varieties of chinotto and pesca (peach juice). And just when you think you couldn’t be happier, you find yourself facing an entire supermarket aisle of pasta. Having trouble choosing? Don’t worry, the women serving at the nearby deli counter are ready with recipes, cooking tips and a cheerful reminder that the ricotta only keeps in the fridge until next time you wash your hair, love.


5. Mariluci Fine Food and Specialties

14 Gellibrand Cres.

So you wander out of the IGA with bags full of cheese, artichoke, risoni and some very high hopes…but if, like me, you suddenly remember you are too lazy to cook anything with more than three ingredients, it’s okay. Head about 2km north to Mariluci Fine Food and you can keep riding that wave of Italian happiness. Everything in this store is ready to be popped in the oven and served. It’s not frozen, just incredibly fresh. There is a mind-boggling variety of their specialty arancini and little arancini balls, as well as pizza, lasagne and other savouries I can pretend I made at home. Beware your limited fridge capacity – as I learned the hard way.




Renee Imbesi is a mother of two under 3 years old, works in health promotion, and reads short stories voraciously. She has lived in the northside for seven years, including three years in Reservoir, which she loves.

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