Islington's Italian tradition lives on | Food Bites

NEW OWNERS: Behind the scenes at Pino's, 98 Maitland Road, Islington. Picture: Supplied
NEW OWNERS: Behind the scenes at Pino's, 98 Maitland Road, Islington. Picture: Supplied

The name Pino’s is synonymous with Italian cuisine in Islington. The restaurant at 98 Maitland Road changed hands recently but the tradition has lived on. Food & Wine thought it was time to ask new owners Murrie Harris, Knives Baker and Sam Irwin a few questions. 

FRESH START: Pino's at 98 Maitland Road, Islington, changed hands earlier this year. The small menu changes weekly and has a secret message. Picture: Supplied

FRESH START: Pino's at 98 Maitland Road, Islington, changed hands earlier this year. The small menu changes weekly and has a secret message. Picture: Supplied

Have any of you owned or worked in a restaurant before? We have all worked in cafes and restaurants. Murrie owns The Press Book House.

Do you have other jobs? Murrie and Knives run The Press and Irwin is a carpenter, so we all work seven days a week and have two jobs. 

Who is your head chef?  Knives. He worked in cafes and restaurants in Melbourne for years before moving back to Newcastle a few years ago. 

So, is Pinos an Italian restaurant or not? Crossing out the word Italian online confused some people. Yes, it is an Italian restaurant. We put a cross through the sign to show that it wasn’t the same restaurant as before, since we kept the name of the previous restaurant. It’s been an Italian restaurant since 1977. There’s too much history to not stay an Italian restaurant. 

What is on the menu? It is a small menu that changes weekly. It’s food that comes to mind when we think of Italian food. Last week’s appetisers were bruschetta al pomodoro with ox heart tomatoes, mushroom arancini and fried parmesan Brussels sprouts. Mains were penne al’arrabbiata and caponata, and chocolate panna cotta for dessert. 

What makes it unique? Pino’s is a vegan Italian restaurant, without mentioning it anywhere on the menu. It’s about showing people that it doesn’t have to be “vegan” food, it can just be “food”. Veganism isn’t a handicap or an excuse to make poor quality food. 

Have you had much feedback from customers yet? Every night there has been really positive feedback from customers of the old Pino’s and from new.

What are you hoping to achieve by the end of 2018? We love going to work. That was the only goal. 

Nulkaba cafe

Casey Parsons, who has most recently worked at the former Bistro Artisan and the Royal Oak Hotel in Cessnock, is today opening a cafe at Nulkaba with his partner, Megan. It’s called Simply D’vine Cafe and can be found at 151 Wine Country Drive. 

On the move

Antojitos Carrington has now closed and will be re-opening at a refurbished premises on Newcastle’s Steel Street soon. Owner Eric Flores said: “Thank you Carrington for embracing us into your community. You have been an important part of our journey and will always be part of our history and our story. Thank you for having us and for all your support. Keep a look out on our social media for updates about Steel Street.”

New head chef

The Sydney Junction Hotel has a new head chef, Kylie Foster, and has just launched a new autumn menu. It includes dishes like warm mushroom salad; braised short ribs; confit duck Maryland; risotto; and beef, red wine and mushroom ragout.

West End eats

The Edwards has introduced a new breakfast menu, available from 7am to 11.30am. There is so much to choose from, including savoury mince with smoked potato, chorizo, tomato, sourdough and a poached egg. Yum. They are also introducing a Sunday roast dinner special that will change weekly.

Burger boost

The popular Boss Burgers of Sydney are now being flipped and served at Swansea Hotel. Diners can choose from the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Burger; the Signature Double Cheese Burger; The Boss Burger or the Shroom Burger.

Road trip

Sydneysiders will get to experience the best of the Hunter Valley this Sunday, April 22, at the Uncorked Avalon Festival at The Village Green, Dunbar Park. A new addition to this year’s festival program is the Riedel pop-­up Semillon & Oyster Bar which will be hosted by four of the Hunter’s leading winemakers and vignerons showcasing the Hunter Valley’s iconic semillon variety matched with Sydney Rock oysters. Taking part in each hour-long masterclass is: Brad Russ, operations manager at Tulloch Wines; Jessica McLeish, vigneron and owner at McLeish Estate Wines; Aaron Mercer, senior winemaker at Tamburlaine Organic Wines; and Adrian Sparks, senior winemaker at Mount Pleasant Wines.

Harvest feast

A Harvest Feast will be held at Topper’s Mountain Cellar Door, Tingha, on May 6. The celebration will involve a spit roast lamb, hams, salamis, smelly cheeses, olives, wine and some craft beers. Email  jan@toppers.com.au or phone 0431 752 910 to book your seat at the table.

Golden Chef

If you’re aged between 16 and under 25 on September 30 and working in Australia’s culinary industry, you might be eligible to enter the 2018 Nestlé Golden Chef’s Hat Award. It provides a platform for the country’s best and brightest talent to connect with peers, learn new skills, create amazing dishes and experience new opportunities. 

If successful in your region’s heat, you will get to cook-off in the national final at Fine Food Australia in Melbourne in September and be in the running for a culinary trip of a lifetime to Italy. Register at enter.nestle-goldenchefs.com.au until May 11. Details at nestle-goldenchefs.com.au.

Street party

Don’t forget, the family-friendly Upper Hunter Wine and Food Affair returns to Denman on May 5. Go to upperhunterwineandfoodaffair.com.au for details. 

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