If you’ve spent much time at Caffe e Cucina or D.O.C. Albert Park or Mornington, Riccardo Bianchini might be a familiar face. After managing each of the three Italian restaurants over the past decade, Bianchini finally opened his own: Cucina & Co.
“The name is a reference to Caffe e Cucina,” says Bianchini. “That’s where a lot of people know me from.”
Cucina and Co. is a new 65-seat Sicilian restaurant with a formidable wood-fired pizza oven. Also involved are Bianchini’s partners: Peter Aloi of Caffe e Cucina, Peter Kisvarda and pizzaiolo Leonardo Alfieri.
Located under an apartment complex on Brighton’s New Street the restaurant has a palette of washed concrete, glass and black marble.
“I wanted to create something grungy,” says Bianchini. “In Italy you sit in a square on the concrete. You sit on the steps. I wanted to recreate that image of the Italian sitting somewhere in public.”
Cucina & Co. isn’t reinventing the wheel. It’s just good, reliable pasta and pizza and a few recognisable go-tos in between: lamb meatballs in pomodoro and steamed mussels in garlic- and white-wine sauce. “All of our pasta is homemade and cooked on the spot,” says Bianchini.
The cotoletta alla milanese – which is crumbed veal, rocket and lemon – is a crowd favourite so far.
The menu offers 14 different pizza toppings so far. They mostly cover the basics but include the more unusual zuccotta, which has a base of cream of pumpkin and is topped with buffalo mozzarella, sausage, basil and extra-virgin olive oil.
Cucina & Co.
325 New Street, Brighton
(03) 9530 5324
Mon to Thu 3pm–10.30pm
Sat & Sun 9am–10.30pm