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The Italian Place to be

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You will recognise his face the moment you enter the door.

Tony Lo Terzo has been a genial and familiar character in Canberra’s hospitality scene for almost a decade.

You may have experienced his warm welcome and broad Italian accent at Pialligo Estate, Italian and Sons or Loading Zone.

But now Tony and his friend Francesco Petrillo have taken the plunge – setting up a gorgeous Italian Trattoria on Mort Street in Braddon, The Italian Place.

With an authentic restaurant set up – think dark wood, a long bar, Italian smallgoods in shelves and salamis and prosciutto hanging in a row – The Italian Place has a stack of small tables and a rustic vibe.

The front bar is laden with fresh-baked pastries and panini dripping in mozzarella and semi-dried tomatoes.

Under glass are trays of fresh-made pasta and takeaway containers full of rich tomato and squid ink sugo and ragu – all prepared by Francesco, who, since relocating from Campania, has worked in a number of renowned kitchens of Canberra.

All pasta is made on site, except for the vegan version which they buy in.

You can take it away to cook at home, or pull up a chair and order off the menu or specials board.

Having only been open two weeks, Tony says they are still finalising what seasonal specials should be on offer, but the menu revolves around classic Italian fare – think Long pasta with clams, mussels, prawns, cherry toms, garlic and chilli, or the Saltimbocca of pan-seared veal backstrap with San Daniele and sage.

Francesco has noticed already that the pork neck ragout and lasagne are on high rotation.

His fennel and pork sausages – a secret homemade recipe – are also big sellers both served in-house with cannellini beans and spinach or to take away and cook at home.

“Like in Italy, we want the products the chef uses to be available for the customer to take home too,” says Tony.

He also loves local. “We want fresh and we try to get local.” This includes Tony bringing in veggies from his own garden.

He is proud of the new place and a little surprised at the amount of traffic it is already getting – with 80 dinners served on Saturday night – and a steady stream of builders in high-vis ordering coffees and pastries.

“I do love the industry – I believe hospitality is all about welcoming someone at the door and saying goodnight and delivering a good experience in between.”

That good experience in between is likely to involve wine or cocktails. While The Italian Place’s menu is a single page, the wine list is impressively extensive.

Tony and Francesco have been careful to focus on including Italian varietals made locally, such as the Lark Hill Sangiovese, Pizzini Verduzzo or a Ravenswood Pinot Gris.

And if you’ve ever hankered to taste the stellar pinot noir produced by Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist and Australian National University Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt, Tony is selling it by the bottle or glass.

Finally, a word on the cocktail list – we can’t decide whether to try the Negroni Sanguinelle, the Americano or the Boulevardier, among others. So we will try all three.

You’ll find us sitting up at the bar with an antipasto platter planning our next trip to Italy.

the essentials

What: The Italian Place
Where: 38  Mort Street Braddon (formerly Baked on Mort)
Open: Every day for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Closed next Tuesday and Sunday nights after Easter
Contact: theitalianplace.net.au or 61798812

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