Nino grew up in country Western Australia surrounded by quality produce. His mother was of a farming family, who have farmed in the region for almost 100 years. 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 Best New Restaurant in Australia by Restaurant & Catering Australia, and was soon after awarded one Chef’s Hat in the SMH Good Food Guide, which it has held for 11 consecutive years. In 2018, it was named Australia's Best Formal Italian Restaurant at the Restaurant & Catering Australia Awards for Excellence.
The Restaurant Pendolino celebrates the very best of Italian cooking, and has a dedicated pasta kitchen where up to 15 different varieties of hand-made pasta are prepared each day.
While also taking great pride in offering a boutique and thoughtfully procured wine list, the restaurant is also a celebration of Australia’s best extra virgin olive oils – another passion of Nino’s. Regularly travelling around Australia and internationally to sample and judge olive oils, Nino has created a unique offering at The Restaurant Pendolino, where once seated, each guest enjoys a range of premium oils with freshly baked house-made breads.
Located opposite The Restaurant Pendolino on the second floor of the Strand Arcade, Nino and Krissoula opened La Rosa The Strand 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; Pendolino was #17).
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.