Icebergs’ series of tenth anniversary dinners has seen an array of chefs and personalities taking over the iconic Sydney venue, all with a special relationship with Maurice Terzini and his iconic restaurant. Tonight’s dinner is one borne by a deep and long-lasting friendship, with the venue manned by Marco Ambrosino, Enrico and Giovanni Paradiso - better known as the collective behind Potts Point’s Fratelli Paradiso. Their association officially began when Enrico worked for Terzini at Caffe e Cucina in Melbourne’s South Yarra. However, they knew each other through strange meandering channels, which meant they crossed paths even when they both uprooted from Melbourne and replanted in Sydney.
“It was a bit of a migration to the promised land... I mean look at this, look at what we’re looking at,” marvels Giovanni, gesturing to the expanse of ocean beneath Icebergs.
Their corresponding successes in a dining culture as brutal and amnesic as Sydney’s is no small feat and one which makes Fratelli Paradiso’s black tie ‘do a doubly celebratory affair.
“We’re lucky to have had parallel success,” notes Enrico.
“It has never been about competition, it has been about growing alongside each other,” says Ambrosino.
“We’re very supportive of each other. And we share a lot of the same clientele,” says Giovanni.
“All restaurants share the same clients, the only difference is we’re not jealous of it,” interrupts Terzini. He claims part of their successes has been that they have front-of-house experience more than being amongst the pots and pans. It’s a significant point and one that challenges the notion of the presence of a ‘celebrity chef’ being sufficient for the success of a venue. Good food can be easier to come by than good service or considered, functional spaces.
They cite their shared heritage as the glue of their friendship. For the Paradiso brothers and Terzini, being Italian boys in Melbourne’s hospitality circles during the early ’90s meant that they had plenty of chances to cross paths. In Sydney, once Ambrosino partnered with the Paradisos, their background bound them all by a common enjoyment of good drinking and dining, which endures in each of their venues today. It’s what they describe as “sharing a similar aesthetic.”
There’s a definite sense of the familial between the two hospitality houses, with Terzini’s son learning the ropes for front-of-house under the boys’ tutelage and the Fratelli Paradiso boys cheekily critiquing Icebergs’ staff over the fit of their uniforms. So it’s fitting that the invitation to take over Icebergs was loose and lax.
“I think we were drunk… Most likely anyway,” says Terzini, on how exactly he invited the boys to take the helm at Icebergs for a black tie affair. While they’ve toyed with the idea of collaborating on a venture before Ambrosino points out that they would only ever do so if it felt natural and organic, rather than a pursuit for its own sake. In the meantime, a black tie dinner will have to do. It’s certainly not going to be a stuffy affair according to Enrico: “It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be improv”, he says, before adding, “Our whole lives have been improv.”
The underlying reason why the Fratelli Paradiso trio are so intimately entwined with Icebergs is due to all of their milestone celebrations there, so it’s a location connected with good times. On hosting a black tie function in such an iconic venue, Giovanni claims to be looking forward to it: “It’s going to be a party. I want to see a hundred people in black ties dancing on tables.”