Maurice Terzini has brought Sydney some of its most ambitious restaurants (Icebergs, Otto Ristorante, Cicciabella). But Terzini’s roots are actually in Melbourne, where he opened his first restaurant, Caffe é Cucina, in 1988 at the age of 23. He continued to run Caffe é Cucina, old-world bar the Melbourne Wine Room and disco bar Snakepit in the Victorian capital until he left the city in 1999, and now has decided to return to his hometown after a decade to open lo-fi Italian eatery Cucina Povera Vino Vero. The restaurant will deliver an unfussy experience inspired by Italian migrants who came to Australia between the 1950s and ’70s.
It’s a big month for Terzini, who has also curated six of his favourite easy-drinking, natural and mostly lo-fi vinos in our latest Broadsheet Wine box. We spoke to Terzini about some of his favourite spots in Melbourne and what he’s missed most.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a restaurateur, but also a jack-of-all-trades. I love art, fashion, music and putting on a good party.
What do you love about Melbourne?
Melbourne is my spiritual home. I grew up in the post-punk scene of St Kilda, so it’s deeply rooted in my heart. I also started my career in Melbourne with my first restaurants Caffe é Cucina and the Melbourne Wine Room. And not least, my beautiful fiancée, Emma, and my parents live here.
What have you missed about Melbourne while you’ve been in Sydney?
Its urban spirit.
What’s your favourite Melbourne restaurant?
I love the classics. There’s iconic Chinese restaurant Flower Drum; St Kilda’s Di Stasio for traditional Italian; and the best bistro in Australia, France Soir, for steak frites, salmon gravlax and incredible oysters. My other favourite places are Entrecote, The Builders Arms, Brunetti, Bar Americano and Romeo Lane which is sadly closing.
Where do you go for brunch?
I don’t do brunch, but a coffee at CBD cafe Pellegrini’s is a must when I’m in town.
Do you have any favourite shops?
Sener Besim is the most beautiful shop in the city. I always drop in for jewellery and eyewear.
When you want to impress someone, where do you take them?
Flower Drum, every time.
What’s one of Melbourne’s most underrated spots?
It’s a surprising one: the Bolte Bridge.
Maurice Terzini’s Broadsheet Wine box is available now in limited quantities until July 5. Try six of his favourite natural and lo-fi wines from $150.
Terzini’s new restaurant Cucina Povera Vino Vero is slated to open mid-June.
“My Melbourne” is a regular column discovering the places and spaces that captivate and entice Melbourne’s well-known residents and beyond.