14 June 2023

Meet the Makers: get to know local winemakers at The Italian Place

| Lucy Ridge
Two people smile in front of a shelf of wine

Sapling Yard Winemaker Carla Rodeghiero and The Italian Place owner Tony Lo Terzo. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The Italian Place in Braddon is a beloved Canberra restaurant, well-known for its exceptional Italian cuisine and the charismatic hospitality of owner Tony Lo Terzo.

Next door to the restaurant is an Italian providore selling wines, groceries, and fresh, house-made pasta. This venue also hosts regular WSET-affiliated wine education classes and a monthly dinner featuring local Canberra district winemakers. A recent dinner celebrated wines from Sapling Yard, which has a cellar door in Bungendore.

tin of ortiz anchovies on grocery shelf

The Italian Place Providore & Bottega sells European specialty items. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

Winemakers Carla Rodeghiero and Malcolm Burdett were guests of honour at the long-table dinner. Guests started with a glass of their 2021 Entrachet Sparkling, with a canapé of smoked salmon and goat’s cheese on a leaf of witlof.

Each of the following three courses had two wines to accompany them. Carla and Malcolm took turns explaining the wines and providing an – often humorous – insight into their winemaking process.

Plate of yellow risotto with green peas

Risotto Milanese is a classic Italian dish that gets its bright colour from saffron. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The first course was an elegant swordfish carpaccio. Carla talked us through the regional variations of riesling. She explained how just a few degrees difference can result in a citrusy, acidic wine or a more floral and fruity flavour.

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A saffron and green pea Risotto Milanese was matched with the 2021 Pirouette Chardonnay and the 2022 Gamay. Carla has named several of her wines after ballet choreography, and ‘Pirouette’ is a lovely descriptor for this chardonnay which toes the line between the buttery tones of an old-school chardonnay and the more complex, acidic modern style.

Long table inside providore

Guests sit at a long table for the monthly wine dinners. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The main course of the meal featured a generous portion of beautifully tender lamb rump with a sweet carrot puree, broccolini and red wine reduction. Paired with a bright sangiovese and a peppery Shiraz Viognier, this dish prompted a conversation around the changing climate and subsequent impacts on grape varietals.

The long table seating encouraged conversation among guests, and while space was a little tight, this only added to the convivial atmosphere. Many people attending these dinners are loyal customers of Tony, who has encouraged a vibrant community of wine lovers at his venue.

Drum of olive oil

The Italian Place Providore offers refills on bottles of olive oil. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

He has recently decided to allow BYO wine at The Italian Place Enoteca, explaining that people are looking for more affordable ways to dine out. The restaurant’s wine list is made up of Italian and local Canberra wines, but Tony says many of his regular customers have extensive cellars and wanted to enjoy other wines from their own collections. He had previously made exceptions for local wine clubs to BYO and felt there was interest in extending this opportunity to the general public.

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In addition to its regular menu, The Italian Place also runs a regional Italian menu on Monday evenings that aims to attract hospitality workers but is open to all. In June, the menu will focus on dishes from Emilia-Romagna, a region famous for bolognese and parmesan cheese.

plate of lamb on long table

Lamb Rump paired beautifully with the Sapling Yard Shiraz Viognier. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The final wine of the evening was called The Extrovert, a charismatic red blend of shiraz, grenache and mourvedre, which Malcolm explained is a Portuguese grape varietal traditionally used in port. Paired with truffled pecorino, this easy-drinking red was the perfect drop for lingering conversation after an enlightening meal.

The Italian Place Providore & Bottega is located at 55/40 Mort St, Braddon, next to The Italian Place Enoteca. The Italian Place is open seven days a week. Visit their website for full opening hours and details of upcoming events. Follow the Italian Place on Facebook or Instagram.

Sapling Yard’s Cellar Door is located at 50 Molonglo St, Bungendore, on Saturdays between 11 am and 4 pm or by appointment. Visit Sapling Yard’s website, or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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