Cafe Paci’s Pasi Petänen and Rootstock co-founder Giorgio De Maria have announced they’re launching a series of wine dinners, called That’s Amore. Taking over Alexandria’s Mecca for March, Petänen will look after the food, while De Maria curates the wine.

Since Cafe Paci closed at the end of 2015, we’ve seen Petänen in various kitchens around Sydney. “I’ve done enough pop-ups in my life already,” he says. “But Giorgio asked me to do this, he’s quite inspirational. He gets so excited about the smallest things.”

The 12 dinners will be a complete departure from the Finnish food he served at Cafe Paci. “It’s boring to do the same thing,” says Petänen. “I don’t want people to know what they’re going to get.”

It’ll be interesting to see the Finnish chef have a crack at Italian – if you tried the carne cruda (an Italian version of steak tartare) he served in a pizza box at Rootstock in 2014, you’ll have some idea. (The dish was called That’s Amore and was the catalyst for his partnership with De Maria). Petänen also enlisted the help of ACME’s Mitch Orr, while taking advantage of De Maria’s Italian background.

“We’re doing the pasta equivalent of bread and butter,” says Petänen. That is, homemade sourdough pasta with butter sauce. That’s all they’re giving away for now, determined not to overthink it. The menu will change weekly depending on what the pair finds at the market.

After working as a sommelier at 121BC’s and importing international wines for more than a decade, De Maria will unveil some incredible wines. You can choose to match them to each course, or take the bottle.

What comes after March? Will Petänen go back into hiding? “Long term, I want to open a permanent restaurant in Sydney,” he says. “Something spontaneous.”

The cost of food will be $75 for a five-course menu, with wine charged on consumption. The series will run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the first three weeks of March. Bookings can be made by emailing

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