A POPULAR Milawa restaurant that closed a couple of years ago is reforming in Wodonga.
A Taste of Italy will open later this month at the venue previously occupied by Hollywood's Pizza Bar.
Owners Carmelo Cardamone (head chef) and Pierina DeGrazia (front of house) said it was the perfect venue to showcase their dining style.
Cardamone said they would offer strictly Italian fare.
"It will be exactly what you get in Italy," he said.
"It's all of my own pasta, woodfire pizza and the best seafood.
"Our Marinara is legendary; we used to have people drive from as far as Griffith for our Marinara at Milawa.
"We were famous for our meatballs too."
Having moved to Australia as a 16-year-old, Cardamone opened Wangaratta's first pizza bar when he couldn't get work in his field as a motor mechanic.
Later he worked under legendary chef Pietro Grossi (Guy Grossi's father) and at Melbourne dining icon, Tolarno, with the Massoni family.
"I'm lucky enough to have worked with some big names," Cardamone said.
"I've done everything from wash dishes to manage international hotels."
Cardamone said he hoped to share his culinary skills.
"My wish here is to find a couple of kids to pass on my knowledge," he said.
MEET MORE HOMEGROWN CHEFS:
What's your favourite dish, Carmelo?
What's your favourite season?
What are the staples in your pantry now?
Porcini, risotto, salami and pizza ingredients.
What is your earliest cooking memory?
We had a house in town but we had a farm four kilometres away. We didn't have much money but we grew enough on the farm. I remember cooking pasta and peas with my dad. We used to go picking porcini in the fields.
Which ingredients do you grow yourself?
We have an 1100 square metre block at Myrtleford and we grow everything; broad beans, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, figs, cucumber, zucchinis and broccoli rabe. We make all of our salami.
What is your favourite foodie ritual?
We have our morning coffee on the back deck when the sun is rising and in the afternoon we have coffee or bubbly on the front deck.
What did you have for dinner last night?
Lamb schnitzel with a radicchio salad
What are you drinking at the moment?
Italy on a Plate
Phone: (02) 6024 1788
From late November, Wednesday-Friday dinner, Saturday lunch and dinner, Sunday night family night