Nino grew up in country Western Australia surrounded by quality produce. His father, a first generation Italian migrant, grew, harvested, reared or bartered for just about everything that was ever placed on the dinner table, from artisan home-made charcuterie and tomato sugo to the highest quality home grown meats and vegetables. It was at this table that Nino’s love for Italian cuisine was born.
After completing a double major degree in Economics and Italian, Nino went on to pursue a career in the culinary arts. At 25, he opened his first restaurant, Caffe Contadino, in Margaret River to critical acclaim. In 1998, Nino moved to Sydney and not long after headed the opening team at Otto Ristorante Italiano on Woolloomooloo wharf.
Today, Nino and his wife Krissoula own and operate two of Australia’s most loved and highly awarded Italian restaurants: The Restaurant Pendolino and La Rosa The Strand. Both reside in the stunning, heritage listed Strand Arcade in Sydney, and boast a loyal clientele of business, political and fashion elite.
In its first year, The Restaurant Pendolino was named Australia's Best New Restaurant by Restaurant & Catering Australia, and was soon after awarded one Chef’s Hat in the SMH Good Food Guide, which it has maintained for 11 consecutive years. In 2018, The Restaurant Pendolino was named Australia's Best Formal Italian Restaurant at the Restaurant & Catering Australia Awards for Excellence.
Located opposite Pendolino on the second floor of the Strand Arcade, La Rosa The Strand opened in 2011, bringing a unique Roman wine bar and osteria to Sydney’s CBD. La Rosa too has received significant awards throughout its history, including being named the Best Informal Italian Restaurant in Australia in 2017 and 2018, and being listed in delicious. magazine’s NSW delicious100 (#45 in 2019; The Restaurant Pendolino #17).
La Rosa celebrates the very best of Roman cooking, with a dedicated Roman Grill menu, a selection of classically Roman pizzas, and of course a range of pastas, all prepared in a dedicated pasta kitchen, where up to 15 different varieties of hand-made pasta are prepared each day.
Today considered one of Australia’s leading chefs and restaurateurs, Nino is also a cookbook author (Pasta Artigiana and Venetian Republic), and a regular contributor to esteemed titles including Gourmet Traveller Wine, delicious., and QANTAS magazine.