Melbourne’s new laneway haven for fresh pasta and authentic Italian hospitality
Strolling down the laneway into Pentolina is like stepping into the backstreets of Rome.
Every day, we make fresh pasta by hand and transform it into delicious, heart-warming pasta dishes that honour our chefs’ Italian heritage and training but add in generous touches of creativity and playfulness. Head chef Gabriele Olivieri’s menu showcases a range of pasta types that you know and love like pappardelle and gnocchi, and a few you probably haven’t like strozzapreti and spoia lorda.
Our recipe for great food is simple: find fresh, seasonal, sustainable produce and make it the star of your meal. We make it a priority to choose small, local producers like SH Wilkinson (sustainably-sourced mussels and clams from Spring Bay, Tasmania), Cheznuts (Australian-grown chestnuts), Pane e Pizzico (sourdough bread, served complimentary with every meal) and Murrundindi Olive Grove (Frattali extra virgin olive oil).
And we’re more than just pasta. We also have a range of delectable “small bites” and entrées to prime your tastebuds for the pasta to come, or to enjoy on their own with our carefully-curated selection of local and Italian wines, beers and cocktails.
But most of all, Pentolina is about giving you an unforgettable dining experience. We’re a casual restaurant, but there’s nothing casual about our approach to serving our guests. Our floor staff, led by restaurant manager Philippe Perrey, know and understand the warmth of true Italian hospitality and love nothing better than to see you feeling relaxed and at home.
meET THE TEAM
Head Chef Gabriele Olivieri knew from a young age that he wanted to be a chef. Growing up in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, he spent every weekend at his Uncle Aldo’s country house gathering fresh seasonal ingredients from the market and cooking for the whole family. It was those early days in the country that instilled in him a passion for fresh, seasonal produce and led to his choice of career.
Gabriele started working as an unpaid chef aged 14, then trained for five years in traditional Italian cuisine at the Institute Savioli in Riccione. He undertook part of his training at the Institute’s sister school in Montreal, Canada, and the experience sparked a lifelong passion for travel.
After completing his formal schooling, Gabriele worked at renowned Michelin-starred restaurants across Italy including Relais Santa Croce Hotel in Florence. From there, Gabriele experimented with foreign cuisines including traditional Thai food at Michelin-starred Nahm in London and Peruvian cuisine at Chica por Gaston Acurio in Cusco.
In 2008 he arrived in Melbourne, where he progressed from senior chef de partie roles at Ezard and Cecconi’s Cantina to sous chef and then head chef at Bottega. During his five years at Bottega, Gabriele made a name for himself as an expert in traditional Italian cooking, culminating in an award for Best Pasta in Australia in 2013.
Gabriele departed Bottega in 2015 to embark on a three-year working holiday taking in Costa Rica, Peru, Italy, Brazil and Thailand. Then, in 2018, he was lured back to Melbourne head up the kitchen at Pentolina.
Restaurant Manager Philippe Perrey – whose heritage is a mix of Swiss, Italian and French - was born into a Swiss hospitality family. His parents owned and managed a restaurant in a small village in the countryside of Switzerland, so it’s little wonder that Philippe grew up to become a global hospitality all-rounder.
Philippe completed both his Chef’s and Waiter’s apprenticeships in his native Switzerland before moving to Germany to work as a chef in a Michelin-starred restaurant. His desire to explore the world led him next to Barcelona, where he worked at celebrity chef Ramon Freixa’s Michelin-starred restaurant El Racó d’En Freixa. Next he travelled to the Maldives, where Hilton Hotels gave him his first Head Chef position.
After 18 months in the Maldives, Ramon Freixa invited him back to Barcelona to take up the position of Head Chef at El Racó d’En Freixa. After only three months, however, Hilton Hotels convinced Philippe to move to Melbourne to open up a new Spanish themed restaurant – in consultation with Freixa – at its South Wharf Hotel. Philippe loved the Melbourne lifestyle and people so much that he decided to stay long-term, continuing his chef’s career with the Melbourne Pub Group, Yarra Valley Lodge and Delaware North Catering company at Melbourne Olympic Parks (official caterer for the Australian Open Tennis).
After more than 15 years in the kitchen, Philippe decided to take on the challenge of a career change and moved front of house. His first Restaurant Manager position was at the Firehouse & Bar Ringwood, and in May 2018 he was delighted to accept the role as Pentolina’s founding Restaurant Manager.
Owner/Director Julia Picone was born and bred in Melbourne, but developed a passion for Italian language and culture from a young age. She completed a double degree at Melbourne University in Law and Arts, majoring in Italian, and won a scholarship to study Italian in Florence as part of her studies. She extended her stay in Italy to travel the country and fell in love with Italian food and hospitality, returning many times over the ensuing years to sample the food of as many regions as she could squeeze in.
After completing her studies, Julia gained her legal qualifications and worked as a civil litigation lawyer for two years. She then moved to the other side of the law, working for the Victorian government for 10 years as a senior policy adviser on red tape reduction and environmental protection law and progressing to senior management roles. A woman of diverse interests, she also pursued a career in musical theatre and opened up her own life coaching business.
In May 2018, Julia finally brought together her passion for Italian food and hospitality with her business management skills and creative flair to open up Pentolina, which she views as her ultimate career achievement.
“Foodie Tuesday”: Julia and Matt Picone dropped by the ABC studios on 20 November 2018 to chat with Raf Epstein about the story behind Pentolina, and what Matt learned from the late Sisto Malaspina while working as a Pellegrini’s barista for 20 years. They debate the merits of fresh versus dried pasta and Matt shares a “Christmas-y” recipe: “Casarecce Pentolina”, a simple and scrumptious seafood pasta dish. Click here to listen to the interview and click here to read the recipe.
Broadsheet: A Welcoming, Family Run Trattoria in the City, 26 July 2018
The Age Good Food: Pentolina brings Pugliese-style pasta to Little Collins Street, 2 July 2018
Broadsheet: Eight to Try: Melbourne’s Best New Italian, 14 September 2018
The Urban List: Pentolina, June 2018
Concrete Playground: Pentolina is the CBD’s new dietary requirement-friendly pasta joint, 18 June 2018
Vogue: 19 Australian bars worth visiting for their design, 31 August 2018
Onya Magazine: New Melbourne Pasta Bar Pentolina Is a Father-Son Dream Come True, 4 September 2018
Yellow Trace: Pentolina Italian restaurant & bar in Melbourne’s CBD by Biasol, 11 July 2018
Weekend Notes, 9 November 2018
OnlyMelbourne, October 2018
The City Lane, 1 October 2018
Eat Drink Play, 4 August 2018