When John Dib opened Piccolino 25 years ago, it was a small 20-seat shop known for dishing out authentic pizza and pasta. Fast forward to 2017 and this small shop is now a 100-seat marvel with soaring ceilings, an impressive pizza oven and those same delicious Italian flavours.
The new space took four years to complete and was designed by internationally recognised architects, Hachem Architects. Taking on a cathedral-like appearance, the restaurant allows guests to worship at the altar of pizza, with the oven taking centre stage in the middle of the light-filled room. Lofty timber ceilings are complemented by steel accents and a vertical garden, making for a comfortable but sophisticated space.
Despite the new look, Piccolino’s menu still carries all the hallmarks of traditional Italian fare. John continues to occupy the position of head chef, building on his knowledge as a chef and a baker to create a sharing menu full of much-loved favourites. Entrees such as bruschetta and arancini are followed by mains like veal Florentine and beef eye fillet, as well as a range of risottos and pastas. House favourites include the linguini marinara with scallops, king prawns, calamari and mussels, tossed with a choice of olive oil or Napoli sauce, and the risotto sposa, a mouth-watering combination of chilli, prawns, scallops and cherry tomato in a Napoli sauce.
If it’s pizza you’re after, Piccolino has you covered. The prosciutto includes a homemade pesto base with mozzarella, baby spinach, prosciutto, roasted pumpkin, roasted pepper and feta, while the Vesuvio combines homemade Napoli sauce, mozzarella, hot calabrese, roasted pepper, black olives, Spanish onion and chilli with a sprinkle of gorgonzola.
In true Italian style, wines come courtesy of the Yarra Valley-based Giammarino Wines. Run by John’s friend, Dino Giammarino, the winery produces Italian-style drops, with fiano, montepulciano and sangiovese all featuring.
Piccolino continues to be a neighbourhood favourite, dishing out locally loved flavours in this an eye-catching space. Join the hordes of visitors flocking to worship at its ‘church’ and you’ll soon find yourself filled with the Italian spirit.