Maurice Terzini is heading west. The Icebergs Dining Room & Bar restaurateur is setting up a second CicciaBella in Sydney's Parramatta, with the help of his good friend, property developer Lang Walker.
If the original CicciaBella, located in a little nook off Bondi's Hall Street, was designed as a casual osteria for locals by night and families for weekends, then CicciaBella Parramatta is a trattoria geared for high-powered lunches between suits. It is, after all, located in Parramatta Square, a $2.7 billion retail-business precinct development by the Walker Corporation that's set to include (according to its website) Australia's biggest office tower. "The trattorias you find in cities like Milan are not necessarily your neighbourhood [restaurant]. They're geared towards lunch, they're fast, they're powerful," says Terzini.
The first CicciaBella opened in Bondi, Terzini's usual stomping ground, in October last year – just about the worst time to launch a restaurant, according to Terzini. "We had the fires, the worst summer, then COVID kicked in. I can't say it was the best time to start a business."
But still, he didn't want to let a good idea die. He'd always had it in the back of his mind to expand the CicciaBella brand, but found Sydney's eastern suburbs oversaturated with Italian restaurants. The only potential sites put him in direct competition with some of his best friends. Then his old friend Lang Walker – an investor in Otto, Terzini's first Sydney restaurant in 2000 – made him an offer he simply couldn't refuse. "I looked at the development, and it was pretty much a no brainer," says Terzini.
Chef Nic Wong will lead the charge in the kitchen – he's recently replaced Mitch Orr, the ex-Acme chef who was CicciaBella's star recruit when it opened. The food will be cucina classica, but gussied up for modern Australia. "It respects traditions, but we'll step it up a notch and bring it into the contemporary."
It might be a strange time to launch a restaurant. But Terzini already has his sights fixed firmly on the future, so much so that he's already planning a third CicciaBella for the Sydney CBD. "I see it being a small kitchen and wine spot, where the menu changes daily, and there's just five reds and five whites [on the drinks list]," he says.
Most of all, he believes restaurants will rise again. "If I felt any hesitation, I would probably just give up today," says Terzini. "I'd get out of the industry if I had any doubt."
CicciaBella Parramatta is set to open in September.