Ital­ian flavours found favour but took ef­fort

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

When Alberico D’An­drea ar­rived to Toko­roa 30 years ago, he never imag­ined how much his food would af­fect the com­mu­nity.

Ital­ian-born D’An­drea and his wife Rachel are cel­e­brat­ing 30 years at Alberico’s.

What be­gan as a dream in the Man­ner­ing St restau­rant turned into an in­cred­i­ble jour­ney of ups and downs.

In April 1984, Ital­ian food was new to Toko­roa and the menu was not re­ceived as well as he hoped, D’An­drea said.

‘‘Those days most of the people like to eat steak well done, they have no idea about pasta, it took me about six months to con­vince people to eat pasta and it took me a year to con­vince them to eat gar­lic.’’

When the pair opened their dream restau­rant, they ob­served a weak food cul­ture.

In his thick ac­cent, D’An­drea de­scribed the food as ‘‘osh posh’’.

‘‘They used to drink fluffy ducks which was a drink made out of ad­vo­caat and le­mon­ade and they mainly liked to eat fish and chips,’’ he said.

Fish and chips may not have gone out of fash­ion but D’An­drea be­lieves he was part of Toko­roa’s food cul­ture evo­lu­tion.

And de­spite the vast dif­fer­ence in cul­ture, the cou­ple fell in love with the Toko­roa com­mu­nity.

In their first few months as restau­rant own­ers, the town was boom­ing.

‘‘When I first ar­rived here there was al­most 19,000 people,’’ he said.

Sadly, D’An­drea watched the pop­u­la­tion di­min­ish fol­low­ing the mill re­dun­dan­cies.

‘‘The money that used to be there and spent in the town wasn’t there any more,’’ he said.

He saw Toko­roa businesses strug­gle, as well as his own.

But D’An­drea said he and his wife never gave up. ‘‘You just buckle down.’’ They pushed through the tough times, kept shar­ing their cul­ture through food and yearned for a place of their own.

By 1998 the Lo­gan St build­ing was in their name and ready from trans­for­ma­tion and it wasn’t long be­fore the cou­ple fi­nally cre­ated some­thing they were proud to call their own.

And what com­pletes the recipe for the long-stand­ing busi­ness is his love for food.

‘‘If you love cook­ing you love eat­ing and if you love eat­ing you love cook­ing.’’

IN­CRED­I­BLE JOUR­NEY: Alberico and Rachel D’An­drea cel­e­brate the 30-year an­niver­sary as restau­rant own­ers.

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