The next project by the Hubert gang has an Italian accent.
Were you a fan of Dan Pepperell’s distinctive take on Italian food when he was the chef at 10 William St? Us too. What if we told you that he was getting back into the spaghetti business? Anton and Stefan Forte, owners of two-star Restaurant Hubert, have teamed up with their Swillhouse group colleague Toby Hilton to take over the Sydney ristorante formerly known as Berta and open a modern-day enoteca. Why the Italian direction after Hubert? “We’ve always known Dan cooks super sick Italian food,” says Anton Forte.
In his time as head chef at 10 William
St, Pepperell gained many fans for his imaginative approach to Italian cuisine
(his bottarga dip served with a hot pretzel remains a signature to this day), and he applied a similar model to the French menu at Hubert, so in a way this is a return to familiar territory for him. He has been toying with the likes of oysters acqua pazza, tonnarelli Amatriciana, celeriac lasagne with a dose of Indian spice, bistecca grilled over applewood, and a play on pani ca meusa, the famed spleen sandwich of Palermo. And, just for good measure, a Yakult gelato.
What about the drinks? “We’re going for
250 bins, lots of back-vintage Barolo,” Forte says. The cocktails won’t be rigidly Italian, either. “There’ll be Negronis, Americanos, vermouth-based drinks. But who doesn’t like a Margarita or a Manhattan?”
And the look? Expect a 1960s “Fellini vibe” with a tribute to Italian cinema and wine bottles in every corner. Artist Allie
Webb is responsible for the “surrealist, trippy” streetscape that diners will see as they enter. Will the Forte brothers’ Italian heritage play a part? “My Nonna on my Mum’s side was an awesome cook,” says Forte. “She came from a town on the Austrian border, so she made polenta, lots of long-cooked dishes, tortellini in brodo. But it’s more our style to say ‘hey, my Nonna used to do this really mad dish – Dan, can you do something with it?’ and just see what happens.” Alberto opens late November, 17-19 Alberta St, Sydney.
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From left: Alberto’s Dan Pepperell, Allie Webb, Anton and Stefan Forte andToby Hilton.