Chef Matteo Tine on Italian nostalgia and breakfast bruschetta
A gem of Melbourne's inner north, Mr. Ottorino has officially opened its doors for breakfast. In an ode to his Sicilian heritage, executive chef Matteo Tine has handcrafted a warm and hearty morning menu, rich in classic, Italian flavours and free of smashed avo.
What lead you to launch the breakfast menu?
It's kind of a bit of creative empowerment for me to do dishes that I wouldn't normally do. I thought, “Let's do some cool things!” I'm a Melbournian and I dine out for breakfast most of the time because that's what we do in Melbourne – we dine out.
What should diners be ordering on a weekend brunch?
We're doing things like the breakfast impanata which is a traditional calzone from where I am from. It's got house-made ham and a poached egg inside it, and when you cut it open it just oozes out. I've also done a little breakfast pasta which is like a carbonara but it's got a confit egg on top with candied pancetta, pecorino sauce and pasta cut off guitar strings.
What's been exciting you on the menu?
The impanata has been the most popular so far probably. Also there's the bruschetta with a poached egg, sweetened ricotta, prosciutto and aged balsamic – people are really taking that in and loving it. Our most popular drink would be our shaken espresso.
The whole menu is pretty hearty. It's not pretty with a whole punnet of flowers on it. It's scoffed down in the morning as you're going and it's good for a hangover.
How often will you change the menu?
The menu will probably change up continuously, just as we play. The dishes at the top will obviously stick but we might just use different versions of them or try and improve versions of them without taking away the beauty of it. I won't do a whole change of the menu for a while.
What was your thinking behind pricing your espresso at the equivalent of one euro?
That's how it is in Italy. Depending on the fluctuating economy, it works out to be $1.60. It's one of the cheapest coffees in Melbourne. I'm not doing breakfast as a giant money maker, I'm doing it as another outlet for me. It's a fun thing and it gives the nostalgia of being in Italy.
I think that coffee is pretty expensive in Melbourne anyways – it shouldn't be as expensive as it is. Come in and have your espresso and cannoli at the bar. I thought it was a fun little idea to make you feel more European.
Why did you want to be a chef?
I come from a family of chefs. My grandfather was a pastry chef, I just grew up with food. I think it takes a specific kind of person to be a chef. You need to be eight different job titles in one person.
When I was younger I was a bit of a brat and I didn't know what I wanted. As a chef, you need to have high energy in the kitchen, you need to be able to think on your feet and you need to be able to perform well under pressure – these are skills that suit my personality.
Also I just love it. I love watching people eating food and appreciating what you're doing. This is my art form- it's edible art! I couldn't imagine being anything else other than a chef – it's just me.
Obviously you have a strong family influence, is there anyone else you draw influence from in your work?
I'd probably say Guy Grossi and Chris Rodriguez (both of Grossi Florentino) who were my bosses. They basically mentored me and taught me up to be the person I am today in the kitchen. Without their training and without their discipline I don't think I'd be running the restaurant I am running today.
What's next for you and the business?
We have a lot of dreams, ambitions and goals – whether or not they're achievable is another thing. We have a couple of restaurants and some ideas we are working with. I'm not going to give too much away.
Other than that there's also books. We'd love to write a book about the kind of things that I do, my love of food and that sort of stuff. Part of this is that I want to do a trip to Italy. I want to go to all these parts of Sicily I haven't been to and learn how to do things traditionally. I've just got to get away from the kitchen, which is the hardest part.
For further information, please visit mrottorino.com.