31 March 2021

Five minutes with Tony Lo Terzo, The Italian Place

| Michelle Rowe
Tony Lo Terzo

Tony Lo Terzo at his popular Braddon eatery, The Italian Place. Photo: Zachary Griffith.

Who is Tony Lo Terzo? I’m the manager and co-owner of The Italian Place Enoteca and The Italian Place Providore and Bottega, both on Mort Street in Braddon.

Best recent dining experience: It was at White Chaco restaurant just around the corner from us in Braddon. The food is a fusion of Taiwanese and Japanese flavours and what chef-owner Andrew Hsieh does, particularly with seafood, is magic.

Most embarrassing pantry item: Nothing really. Perhaps Vegemite, but I do enjoy it.

White Chaco owner Andrew Hsieh

White Chaco owner Andrew Hsieh is a deft hand with seafood. Photo: Supplied.

Must-buy ingredient: I always make sure I buy local produce that’s in season.

Next big thing: Greater awareness of provenance and sustainability of produce, foraging, artisan products and, hopefully, cheese made from natural milk.

Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: I don’t do breakfast, but I have a lot of time for what Gather cafe does in Mort Street, with its focus on community and local and regional produce. Definitely try their kombucha, which comes in flavours such as orange and ginger, cherry and rose, and coffee.

My Canberra food secret: I have a few. I love the Pialligo orchards; the hobby farmers at the Pialligo gardens; the wild fennel plants on the side of our highway; the hospitality, consistency of food and range of Rieslings at Rizla in Braddon; Danny Giordani at Ondine European brasserie in Deakin; Tak Kee Roast Inn and Phu Quoc Vietnamese restaurant in Dickson and D’Browes in Narrabundah.

Gather's colourful dos panqueques

Gather’s colourful dos panqueques – pancakes with raspberry ice cream, cardamom anglaise and fruit. Photo: Michelle Taylor.

Biggest culinary influence: My father taught me from an early age to respect nature, particularly plants and animals, and what and how to forage. In the 50-odd years that I’ve been in hospitality, I have had the privilege of working and collaborating with some of the best chefs and restaurateurs of the era across Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. Just a few of them are Greg Doyle, Ronnie Di Stasio, Guy and Elizabeth Grossi, and Frank Camorra.

In Canberra since 2010, I have worked with and admire Sean McConnell of Rebel Rebel, Adam Bantock of Clementine in Yass, who now runs the Clementine Bakery with his partner Brooke Sainsbury and, of course, Francesco Petrillo, my partner in The Italian Place. I am very proud to have met and learnt from all these chefs and restaurateurs.

Adam Bantock and Brooke Sainsbury

Adam Bantock and Brooke Sainsbury inside Clementine Bakery in Yass. Photo: Fran Marshall.

Favourite cookbook: There are too many to mention, from A Book of Mediterranean Food by Elizabeth David, through to Stephanie Alexander’s bible The Cook’s Companion, to the newly released Siciliano by Joe Vargetto – another great chef and restaurateur in Melbourne.

Who I admire in the Canberra food and wine scene: The Trimboli family, who own Mezzalira in Civic and Italian and Sons in Braddon, for their contribution to Canberra’s Italian gastronomic identity; Josiah Li from Chairman & Yip; Clement Chauvin, owner and executive chef at of Les Bistronomes; Ben Wills, chef and owner of Aubergine; The XO and Morning Glory boys; James Mussillon of Courgette, the crew at Pilot; the Raku operation and Carlo Tosolini of Molto.

Of course, there is also the coming of age of the Canberra wine district – we have some of the best winemakers in the land, including Tim Kirk at Clonakilla, Chris Carpenter at Lark Hill, Ken Helm at Helm Wines, Bryan Martin at Ravensworth and many more.

What’s on the menu this week: Any of our pasta dishes, which are made in-house daily. Also my barrel-aged Negroni or any of our unique Italian wine varietals.

Canberra Region winemaker Ken Helm

Canberra Region winemaker Ken Helm at his vineyard. Photo: Access Canberra.

Where I’m going next: Lanterne Rooms in Campbell.

Death row meal: It would be just-made, still-warm sheep’s milk ricotta.

Providore and deli

The Italian Place in Braddon opened a new providore next door as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. Photo: Botanist Creative.

My COVID-19 response: COVID was the reason we opened the providore and bottega in addition to the restaurant.

My really simple recipe tip: Spaghetti aglio, olio and peperoncino. This simple sauce – made by frying red chillies, olive oil and garlic, and adding a bit of parsley – is ready by the time the pasta cooks.

The Italian Place restaurant is open six days a week for lunch from 12:00 pm to 2:30 pm and dinner from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm (closed Mondays). The deli is open seven days a week from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm (coffee is available from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm).

Original Article published by Michelle Rowe on The RiotACT.

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