On the corner of Kensington Road and Victoria Terrace in Rose Park, a bluestone building has stood for more than a century.
Now it’s under the management of Andre Ursini, who owned the now-closed Andre’s Cucina & Polenta Bar, and it’s home to deli-small bar hybrid Willmott’s Gastronomia and contemporary European bistro Orso.
The design is grand. Thick-cut marble bench tops encase the open-plan kitchen kitted out with a shiny Josper charcoal oven and fire pit. A warm-hued, Venetian-plastered feature wall stands out against a brown-leather banquette and reclaimed Italian beech-wood tables. It spills out into a sail-covered courtyard.
A simple rollcall of ingredients describes each menu item. “Smaller” might be stracciatella with mustard-green salsa verde, fennel, citrus and grilled sourdough, or beef tartare with preserved lemon, hazelnut, brown-butter vinaigrette and rye. “Larger” could be eggplant over the fire, or pork neck with Vermont maple, chicory, fennel and anchovy.
The pasta menu is small, sophisticated and flexible. There are larger-than-usual rabbit-filled gnocchi with raisins, mustard seeds and braising juices. On Sundays there’s an all-day brunch menu.
Ursini’s 20-acre, multipurpose property supplies ingredients for both ventures. Such as honey, braised greens, pea shoots (which form an oil), and even wood for the fire pit. The wine list is 180-strong with a Spanish leaning.