Casey, you’re already involved with Rockwell and Sons, and Bar Liberty, and now you and the Bar Liberty team – Banjo Harris Plane, Michael Bascetta and Manu Potoi – are opening Capitano, an Italian-American pub. What inspired it?
The idea of Capitano was cemented when we took over the pizza caravan at Moondog Brewery for a night and recreated all our popular dishes from both Rockwell and Liberty on their pizze. It was something we always wanted to do, but we needed to find the right spot first. Banjo has always wanted an Italian space – he’s obsessed with pepper grinders. Michael, Manu and I have a more intrinsic love of the red-sauce joints of America.
Where did you eat during your last trip to New York?
We dined at Bamonte’s and Carbone on back-to-back nights to see a match-up of “original” versus “modern” interpretations of the same restaurant. Bamonte’s was hilarious and fun – people go because their family has been going there for 35 years. Carbone has been open for only five years, but seems like it could be 50 years old. Every single thing they did was exceptionally executed.
What did you learn from your travels?
How good Italian food can be, even outside of Italy. I’ve always felt that Italian food isn’t about recreating recipes from Rome or Sicily, but cooking in the style of those places, relative to the produce that’s immediately available to you.
So you won’t restrict yourself to using only Italian ingredients?
I think using Italian ingredients exclusively is a crutch. Why use old flours imported from Italy or frozen buffalo mozzarella when Italian food celebrates freshness? There’s a lot of amazing produce here in Australia that celebrates that same ethos. We will be making mozzarella each morning, and receiving weekly deliveries of freshly milled flours from nearby producers.
You have Blake Giblet on board as Capitano’s head chef. How did you end up working together?
I’ve known Blake as long as I’ve been in Melbourne, and he’s been at Rockwell for two years now. I’d originally asked him to cover a couple of shifts while he was in town renewing his British visa, but the visa fell through, and, lucky for us, we got to keep him. Capitano, 421 Rathdowne St, Carlton, Vic, (03) 9347 8171, capitano.com.au