SItalian cuisine the right way at ERGIO Simonetti, for a long time the owner of Don Camillo, said to me years ago that only Italians can cook Italian. Look around at Da Angelo’s, Solo Pasta, Cucini and others of our favourite Italians and what he says would appear to be true. But, like most sweeping generalisations, there are exceptions. Alex Jovanovic at Piccolo is one exception. But, he’s simply an exceptional chef by any measure.
At lunch at Cultura a few weeks ago, I thought I’d found another in Cultura’s head chef Jay Marsh. However, it was his day off and we were in the hands of John Molina, recently down from his years in the kitchen at Mud Bar in Launceston. And he’s an Aussie with Spanish roots.
Our waitress was Aussie/ Uruguayan, the waiter Australian/ Scottish/ Yugoslav and Spiro on the coffee machine is Greek.
So I don’t know where that little multicultural round- up leaves Simonetti’s claim, except that the owner is Luca Rocchia, his Italian heritage no doubt accounting for the buzz and wonderful warm hospitality of the place.
And the great desserts made by his mother. And the old photos decorating the walls, mainly of his father as a young man back in his village and of his late maternal grandfather stepping off the boat in Melbourne in the 1950s and subsequently – as did so many other newly- arrived Italians– working on the Hydro.
And the food? Italian all the way, and, with only one exception, very good Italian at that.