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Hometown heroes: Maurice Terzini and Robert Marchetti

Go behind-the-scenes at GA&S with Maurice Terzini and Robert Marchetti in our exclusive video feature.

Achieving something elsewhere has always been integral to the Australian cultural cringe, a prerequisite for domestic success in many vocations. And in microcosm, Sydney success has always been a handy qualification to bring home to Melbourne too.

The stories of Robert Marchetti and Maurice Terzini are not identical, yet both have ridden the homecoming float into Melbourne’s streets like Moomba kings with runs on the board in Australia’s biggest and possibly fussiest restaurant market.

Terzini, because of the public role he adopts as a restaurant creator and front-of-house svengali, was well-known in Melbourne when he moved to Sydney in the late 90s, leaving Caffé e Cucina, Il Bàcaro and Melbourne Wine Room in his wake, founding Otto, Icebergs Dining Room and North Bondi Italian Food.

Robert Marchetti is the other half of the odd couple; a chef who had worked in the shadow of his older step-brother Bill, a renowned chef of the 80s and 90s. Behind the scenes, Marchetti – steeped in Italian food culture – acted as manager-chef and business partner to style guru Terzini, helping to make Icebergs and North Bondi local – some would say international – fixtures. Along with Kimme Shaw (as financial controller and partner), they have proven a successful, complementary team of Melburnians in an adopted town. 

But even if the pair is now doing the bi-city thing (along with Neil Perry and Guillaume Brahimi) it is, it must be said, good to have them home and the breath of fresh air they’ve brought with them.

They created Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons (named for their fathers) around the designs of Rome-based Australian ex-pat Carl Pickering (the creative eye also behind Icebergs). Their brief: a New World, third-millennium Roman trattoria. The result: a moody, carefully lit series of Sicilian terracotta-tiled dining ‘pods’ that seem to float in a sea of black. It’s a sexy illusion and they’ve created it on a site that’s raised a few eyebrows – Crown. A mainstream venue unlike anything the pair had been involved in before.

GA&S is a revamped interpretation of the North Bondi schtick: a menu of many departments focusing on cliché-free Italian/Roman rustic food designed to offer flexibility. It steers away from the concept of service periods and three-course dining; whatever the mood, the time of the day, there’ll be something appropriate, from a slice of Marchetti’s own prosciutto to a carafe of house wine, on tap. “We wanted to do a really hip, modern trattoria, which is ultimately a venue that is all about fun. And we wanted to create something in our hometown we were really proud of ,” says Terzini.

With Terzini focused on that ineffable style factor and delivering the kind of personnel and service to meet head-on a swag of Crown-sceptics, Marchetti has built a kitchen and team to back the promise. Matthew Gilroy has moved to Melbourne (as have quite a few wait-staff) from his position as head chef at North Bondi while his co-head chef, Victorian Sara-Jane Quadara (who apprenticed at The Latin under Marchetti) is home from an extended, not to mention demanding, sabbatical in Europe that suggests she is made of stern stuff indeed. Like their employers, both have runs on the board elsewhere. It opens a few doors in Melbourne. Equally, however, they will need to earn their place in our hearts; early signs are positive [see our early review in the GT food blog]. Welcome home, one and all.

Giuseppe, Arnaldo & Sons, Crown, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank, Vic, (03) 9694 7400.

WORDS JOHN LETHLEAN PHOTOGRAPHY SHARYN CAIRNS

This article appeared in the May 2008 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

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