Armadale's Zia Rina's Cucina lives on with new owners, new menu

Gnocco fritto with XO at Zia Rina's, Armadale.
Gnocco fritto with XO at Zia Rina's, Armadale. Photo: Supplied

Neptune Wine Bar's former head chef Danny Natoli and Tokyo Tina's Adrian Li have taken over Zia Rina's Cucina in Armadale. Rina D'Alessandro – Natoli's cousin – died at the end of 2017, leaving empty the 26-seat neighbourhood trattoria she'd owned and operated for the past eight years. To keep her spirit alive, Natoli decided to take on the restaurant, reopening it two weeks ago.

So far, they haven't touched the fitout ("the space she created is one of the most inviting things about it," says Natoli), although the website and branding have been refreshed. They've also given the menu a reboot. A modern take on vitello tonnato sits alongside traditional Italian and Sicilian dishes such as mussel cavatelli and orecchiette ragu, while others adopt an Asian accent: gnocco fritto comes with XO, and fazzoletti (handkerchief pasta) with chickpea gets an umami lift from miso.

For drinks, sake is the exception on a short list of otherwise exclusively Australian and Italian wines.

Zia Rina's Cucina in Armadale will become Rina's Casa del Popolo.
Zia Rina's Cucina in Armadale will become Rina's Casa del Popolo. Photo: Justin McManus

While the restaurant is currently trading as Zia Rina's Cucina, Natoli and Li will soon update the signage to Rina's Casa del Popolo – Rina's House of the People.

"Rina was a tough southern Italian chef who is sorely missed by all for her food, humour and old-school hospitality," says Natoli. "We want to continue in the same direction."

Open Wed-Sat 6-10pm.

857 High Street, Armadale, no phone, rinas3143.com