Could it be true that Italian boys love their mum’s cooking more than anyone else’s? Well perhaps, if we’re to believe chef and owner of Saint Peters, Maurice Esposito, whose recently rebranded city restaurant has made decidedly more casual shift.

“We’re going back to home-style cooking that’s true to my heritage and things I know that I love,” says Esposito. He’s toned things down over the last few months. There won’t really be a strict menu, as things will change from day-to-day based on what he and his team can find at the market.

“There’s still a focus on sustainability of fish…but we want it to be a sustainable restaurant across the board,” he says. As such, there’ll be dishes like bruscetta using local tomatoes, mozzarella from La Latteria, spaghettini with bugs, crumbled veal cotoletta, a rotation of fish dishes with John Dory and hand cut chips, proscuitto and bresaola (Esposito is curing his own meats too), lots of handmade pasta and ‘Mum’s Lasagne’. “There’s a huge influence of authenticity and home-cooked food,” Esposito adds. “Food I like to eat.”

He’s stripped the place of white tablecloths, brought the prices down and created a relaxed Italian city bistro with photos of the chef’s family pasted up on the walls.

It’s certainly not the first we’ve seen of restaurants and restaurateurs going casual in line with a demand for locally driven produce and simplicity in dining. Indeed, it’s a move that’s making Melbourne an incredibly versatile place to eat at any time of the day and means that while dining out is still special, it can be done daily and very casually, without burning a hole in your wallet.

“It’s simple, clean food that you can eat everyday,” says Esposito.

Mum would be proud.

stpetersrestaurantandbar.com