Cucinetta, the South Yarra Italian restaurant with 21 seats but no fridge

Slow-braised veal shoulder with celeriac puree.
Slow-braised veal shoulder with celeriac puree. Photo: Paul Jeffers

 Cucinetta is so small, there is no room for a fridge. The South Yarra osteria, which opened earlier this year with just 21 seats, gets its fish and veg delivered before service, and once it's gone, it's gone.

The same-day strategy works fine for owners Omar El Deek and Giacomo Pietrantuono​, who, with head chef Attilio Nuscis, change the whole menu every Wednesday.

One week slow-cooked veal, thinly sliced and flecked with salsa tonnata and capers might make an appearance; and the next, there will be vialone nano risotto with red and yellow capsicum, mascarpone and almond.

The whole menu changes every week at South Yarra's Cucinetta.
The whole menu changes every week at South Yarra's Cucinetta. Photo: Marco Marroni

Nuscis cooks the food he knows best: northern Italian from where he grew up, and the Calabrian-style he learned from his mama. Pappardelle, tagliatelle and other pasta is made in-house, and bread is baked daily.

"As an Italian, he likes simple dishes," El Deek says. "Two, three, four ingredients maximum."

Pietrantuono has assembled a by-the-glass wine list 26 bottles deep. Given space constraints, there's a single glass for barolo, brunello and fiano alike, a 950-millilitre Riedel 001, which could hold an entire bottle – if you so please.

House-made potato and ricotta gnocchi with wild prawns.
House-made potato and ricotta gnocchi with wild prawns. Photo: Paul Jeffers

"Normal wine, in this glass, it tastes better," El Deek says. "You feel like a king or a queen."

Meanwhile, El Deek and Pietrantuono will remain on the floor at the venerable Caffe e Cucina, where they're general manager and food and beverage manager, respectively.

"Because Caffe e Cucina is an old established business, a lot of things are very conservative," El Deek says.

One glass fits all at Cucinetta.
One glass fits all at Cucinetta. Photo: Marco Marroni

"But at Cucinetta, we play. It's our laboratory."

Open daily noon-late.

Shop 4, 3 Murphy Street, South Yarra, 03 9942 2607, cucinettamelb.com.au