When Matt Tine and Matty Miceli throw open the doors at Mr Ottorino in April, they'll be carrying on a proud Sicilian tradition.
The Fitzroy restaurant, named after Tine's pastry chef grandfather, will serve dishes that migrated with their families in the 1950s and '60s. They'll get a modern kick without being disrespectful, says Tine, who worked at Grossi Florentino grill for 11 years and still counts Guy Grossi as a mentor.
Expect dishes such as caponata (slow-cooked eggplant), cavatelli (rolled pasta shells) with a rich beef ragu, impanata (the Sicilian version of the folded Spanish savoury pie), Tine's nonna's rice-stuffed chicken, and sultana-studded crispedi dough puffs.
Miceli, who previously owned Lucky's Pizza, plans to make full use of the wood oven in the rear courtyard. The small wine list will focus on Australian-Italian and Sicilian wines.
The pair are updating the kitchen, changing the entrance, and making cosmetic changes inside the Johnston Street space before they open.
The Johnston Street site had housed the Commoner since 2007. Former owner Jocelyn Corrigan and her partner and long-time collaborator Matthew Donnelly are now focusing on their business Mushrooms Anonymous, supplying wild and foraged ingredients to Melbourne restaurants and greengrocers.
Mr Ottorino, at 122 Johnston Street, Fitzroy, is tipped for a mid-April debut.