May 19, 2022


Free For All Food

Lucio’s Italian Cafe in Sydney is closing soon after 38 years serving Australia’s fantastic artists

Immediately after 38 years of company, there are just some issues restaurateur Lucio Galletto are not able to allow go.

He is holding only a few artworks from among his eminent selection, which will be auctioned in March.

But there are also the rituals dating again to his childhood.

Ahead of the cafe opens, he walks by way of his Paddington establishment with a very hot pan wafting the scent of burnt garlic infused with oil.

“To continue to keep evil spirits out of the cafe,” Lucio explained.

“It can be quite specific.

“Also the aroma of the garlic, by the time individuals appear in, it truly is quite inviting.”

A market-out ultimate evening

Lucio’s Italian Cafe will welcome its last consumers on Saturday.

When the business announced the closing day in October, it was booked out within just four hours.

The restaurant was established in Balmain in 1981 prior to shifting to Paddington two many years afterwards.

Considering the fact that then, the household-operate company has hosted patrons from across the art planet — John Olsen, Tim Storrier, Elisabeth Cummings, Michael Johnson, Salvatore Zofrea, Euan Macleod, Sidney Nolan and a lot of far more.

There have also been famous people — Al Pacino, Italian singer Zucchero Fornaciari and the late George Harrison, with Lucio remembering offending his “hero” when he requested the Beatles star for an autograph.

It was Nolan’s sketch of Ned Kelly on the back again of a docket that kick-started Lucio’s famed gallery of operates that adorn the partitions within the cafe, and the pavement and tree outside the house.

“He spent a fortune framing it in gold leaf, which I was furious about and I nonetheless am,” his spouse, Sally Galleto, claimed.

To Lucio, the artists are “la famiglia” — relatives.

“I imagine they observed how I took care of [the Nolan sketch]. Soon after that they arrived in and questioned ‘can I hold my artwork on your wall?’

“And they say to me, ‘Artists may well not like each and every other but they all like Lucio’s.'”

Lucio’s food items, artwork and friendship auction

A full of 200 of Lucio’s artworks will be auctioned by Bonhams Australia on March 21 which include paintings, sculptures and sketches some of which ended up drawn on menus and on the napery.

A lucky customer could also consider home ‘The Sacred Fish’ by Imants Tillers, which arrives with compact flecks of tomato sauce, courtesy of the patrons who have sat at the table below the work given that 2016.

Lucio assures us that the sauce can be wiped off the paint oils, usually, he joked, the consumer “can get an further 10 for every cent off!”.

Bonhams director Merryn Schriever mentioned the assortment was a snapshot of the Australian art planet from the 1980s.

“The vary of is effective is incredible,” Ms Schriever explained.

“Quite a few of the is effective are about specific encounters and specific events these as the Garry Shead performs that are all about banquets and feasts and characteristic equally Garry and Lucio.”

It is anticipated the selection will whole somewhere in between $700,000 and $1,000,000, she mentioned.

Of all artworks hanging about the partitions, there are only a few Lucio is preserving for himself.

Colin Lanceley’s Blue Swimmer Crab — a blended media function that paid homage to the restaurant’s pasta dish, tagliolini alla granseola, is a single of Lucio’s favourites.

“I could not market it, it is really way too particular for me, so I’m likely to preserve it in my residence when we close,” Lucio mentioned.

“Mainly because he did it for me, to celebrate something I have been performing for decades. That is the particular matter.”

He would also like to hold Fred Cress’ painting, titled Lucio’s Foods, featuring the palms of artists sharing a feast, but he thinks it might “be far too significant” for the condominium he life in.

‘He enjoys the people’

Lucio was lifted in the world of places to eat and artwork.

His household owned a cafe in the smaller Italian seaside city in the province of Liguria and his cousin also operates a cafe and an art gallery.

“It was like I was born in a restaurant,” Lucio reported.

“We used far more time getting in the restaurant than at house.

“We experienced our tiny corner in the cafe where by we did our homework, watched television.”

It was there he met his wife Sally, who was going to her sister, who is married to Lucio’s cousin.

“We went to Paris to see if we were being suitable to get married,” Lucio stated with a snicker.

“We were fighting every day so we reported ‘yes, we are completely ready to get married!'”

Lucio’s first occupation in Sydney in 1977 was at Natalino’s Cafe in Kings Cross.

Whilst he loves food stuff and loves to prepare dinner (though “he helps make a mess” according to Sally), it was the front-of-dwelling obligations that retained Lucio in the business enterprise.

“His forte is with the people today,” Sally said.

“He loves speaking to persons, building folks content.”

Sally joined the organization in 1997 right after a job in advertising, whilst their two small children Matteo and Michela educated in hospitality and now also get the job done for the restaurant.

‘We follow the season’

Lucio’s has only had five head cooks in its life span, and most experienced the apprentices that then took in excess of the part.

George Kohler has been the restaurant’s head chef for the earlier 3 yrs, and was educated by his predecessor Logan Campbell, who was in Lucio’s kitchen area for 12 several years.

The gradual turnover of workers intended the model of the food items rarely adjusted and reflected Lucio’s motto: “We adhere to the period, not the trend”.

“There is certainly a dish currently on the menu — burrata with tomato,” Mr Kohler explained to ABC Sydney.

“We use basil and I have made that into a gel and we inject that into the burrata to develop a wow component.

“[The kitchen] It truly is like a shoebox.

“But for a two-hatted establishment … it can be remarkable the meals we can generate and get out to the clients at these kinds of a large conventional.”

Until the future venture

Lucio’s might be closing but it is in no way a mark of retirement for the Galletto family members.

Their upcoming enterprise, when not but confirmed, will be spearheaded by Matteo and Michela.

“Ideally we will do some thing else with our children but it will be something they feel about it, trigger [Lucio’s] was Sally and I,” Lucio reported.

“What I will miss out on, and I hope not for lengthy since I hope to do one thing else, is that I will miss individuals.

“I will overlook my staff, miss out on looking at the foodstuff becoming well prepared, the organisation of the kitchen area, the team in the kitchen operating so perfectly with each other, but unquestionably the eating place.

“The eating room is exactly where I truly feel at residence — producing positive that folks are possessing a great time.

“I will overlook not currently being section of their conviviality any more.”