Mister Bianco’s menu comes with a Sicilian history lesson. While it features well-known cuisine from the region such as pasta and braised dishes, there are surprising snippets of German influence too. That’s down to a blip in Sicily’s past when Mussolini gave power to Germany and the island was used as a fortress. Owner Joseph Vargetto is careful to maintain the authenticity of the food from his parents’ homeland.
Vargetto lives close to Mister Bianco, splitting his time between here, his city restaurant Massi and his youngest venture, Fondata 1872 in the Yarra Valley. Mister Bianco was the first of the trio. It’s grown, expanding throughout the building and opening up a rabbit warren of spaces. The almost 90-degree stairway leads up to even more dining rooms, all low lit, intimate and ideal for private functions.
There’s a generosity at this homely spot, both in the service and the food. In true southern- Italian style, meals are best shared among the table, grazing style. Bread is served with charcoal salt before you really get down to business. At the top of the list is the stuzzichini – a southern Italian equivalent to antipasti meaning “to pick”. Here, that means pork and veal meatballs with buffalo mozzarella, or tuna alla zingara with avocado puree and sesame seeds for something fresh and bite sized.
Various pastas are made in- house, and there are larger dishes such as veal, twice-cooked pork belly and braised beef cheek with creamed späztle (German egg noodles). If you’ve paced yourself, there’ll be room for dessert. The waiter will swing past your table with an oversized copper pot of tiramisu, serving just the right portion to finish the meal.