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Cucinetta takes intimate dining to a different level

Cucinetta, located in South Yarra, brings a little of northern Italy to Australia.

The restaurant seats 21.

It’s small, taking up just 29-square metres.

That is a similar size to a car space.

In fact, it’s so small, there’s no room for a fridge or a freezer.

It doesn’t even have a cool room.

Instead, fresh fruit, vegetables and meat arrive each morning ready for the day’s service. And once all of that is gone, it’s gone. You have to wait until the next day if you want more.

Owners Omar El Deek and Giacomo Pietrantuono, who, with head chef Attilio Nuscis have developed this same day strategy.

They change the whole menu every Wednesday.

That means the menu changes from week to week, much like what you would get when you eat in a family restaurant where nonna is the chef.

So one week, you would get slow-cooked veal, thinly sliced and flecked with salsa tonnata and capers. And the next week, you might be served vialone nano risotto with red and yellow capsicum, mascarpone and almond.

 Cucinetta (that’s Italian for “tiny kitchen”) has just two chefs.

The size of it ensures that dining intimacy is taken to a new level not usually found in other restaurants.

Nuscis cooks food from northern Italy, the region he grew up in, adding the  Calabrian-style that he learned from his mama. 

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

The by-the-glass wine list 26 bottles. And because of the space constraints, barolo, brunello and fiano come in a single glass.

El Deek and Pietrantuono are usually found on the floor at the well known and well-established Caffe e Cucina, where they work as general manager and food and beverage manager.

Because Caffe e Cucina is an old established business, a lot of things are very conservative," El Deek told Good Food. "But at Cucinetta, we play. It's our laboratory."

by Leon Gettler, August 11th 2017