Cash isn’t king at Minestra. Owner and head chef Sandy Cenin will trade your backyard produce for store credit – coffee in exchange for some figs, or breakfast in exchange for a load of Jerusalem artichokes.
An Adelaide indie rock music legend and former school teacher, Cenin made a career change in 2012, turning an empty corner store into a hub for classic Calabrese food. Today, the walls are decorated by local art curated by Cenin's sister, artist Ray Harris. And local bands predominate an always-excellent playlist.
Cenin's grandmother is from Calabria, where minestra means stew – stewed greens, usually. The recipe, like many passed down through generations, can vary. But in this case it often depends on what the backyard growers bring in.
Served with eggs and toast for breakfast, or with polpette (that's Italian for meatballs) for lunch, minestra is always on the menu. Other dishes include a buttery and smooth polenta with sage mushrooms; avocado with lime and cracked pepper; and lemon ricotta doughnuts for dessert. Coffee, fresh orange juice, heart-stopping milkshakes and the Calabrese spider make up the simple drinks menu.
Make sure to come back for the popular Friday Pasta Night featuring three or four pasta specials, such as salt cod vermicelli or beef shin and pork belly lasagne. But get there early as they almost always sell out.