March 1, 2021


Free For All Food

Lucio’s Italian Restaurant in Sydney is closing right after 38 several years serving Australia’s fantastic artists

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

He is trying to keep only a couple artworks from among the his eminent selection, which will be auctioned in March.

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

In advance of the restaurant opens, he walks through his Paddington institution with a hot pan wafting the scent of burnt garlic infused with oil.

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

“It truly is really special.

“Also the aroma of the garlic, by the time people today occur in, it really is very inviting.”

A promote-out remaining night

Lucio’s Italian Restaurant will welcome its last prospects on Saturday.

When the organization declared the closing date in October, it was booked out within 4 hours.

The cafe was established in Balmain in 1981 ahead of shifting to Paddington two many years later on.

Due to the fact then, the spouse and children-run business has hosted patrons from across the art planet — John Olsen, Tim Storrier, Elisabeth Cummings, Michael Johnson, Salvatore Zofrea, Euan Macleod, Sidney Nolan and several much more.

There have also been superstars — 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 of a docket that kick-begun Lucio’s famed gallery of operates that adorn the partitions inside the cafe, and the pavement and tree outside.

“He spent a fortune framing it in gold leaf, which I was furious about and I nevertheless am,” his wife, Sally Galleto, stated.

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

“I feel they saw how I took care of [the Nolan sketch]. Immediately after that they arrived in and asked ‘can I hang my artwork on your wall?’

“And they say to me, ‘Artists could possibly not like every other but they all like Lucio’s.'”

Lucio’s foods, art and friendship auction

A complete of 200 of Lucio’s artworks will be auctioned by Bonhams Australia on March 21 such as paintings, sculptures and sketches some of which were being drawn on menus and on the napery.

A fortunate buyer could also choose household ‘The Sacred Fish’ by Imants Tillers, which will come with small flecks of tomato sauce, courtesy of the patrons who have sat at the desk underneath the get the job done considering the fact that 2016.

Lucio assures us that the sauce can be wiped off the paint oils, or else, he joked, the consumer “can get an more 10 per cent off!”.

Bonhams director Merryn Schriever said the selection was a snapshot of the Australian artwork environment from the 1980s.

“The assortment of functions is amazing,” Ms Schriever reported.

“Quite a few of the functions are about unique experiences and particular gatherings these types of as the Garry Shead functions that are all about banquets and feasts and aspect equally Garry and Lucio.”

It is envisioned the selection will total someplace among $700,000 and $1,000,000, she reported.

Of all artworks hanging about the walls, there are only a several Lucio is holding for himself.

Colin Lanceley’s Blue Swimmer Crab — a blended media get the job done that paid homage to the restaurant’s pasta dish, tagliolini alla granseola, is 1 of Lucio’s favourites.

“I could not offer it, it really is much too special for me, so I’m likely to hold it in my property when we close,” Lucio stated.

“Since he did it for me, to celebrate a little something I’ve been carrying out for many years. That is the particular issue.”

He would also like to retain Fred Cress’ painting, titled Lucio’s Foods, featuring the hands of artists sharing a feast, but he thinks it may possibly “be far too significant” for the condominium he lives in.

‘He loves the people’

Lucio was elevated in the planet of dining places and art.

His family owned a cafe in the little Italian seaside city in the province of Liguria and his cousin also runs a cafe and an art gallery.

“It was like I was born in a cafe,” Lucio said.

“We invested a lot more time staying in the restaurant than at residence.

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

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

“We went to Paris to see if we ended up appropriate to get married,” Lucio stated with a chuckle.

“We were battling day-to-day so we mentioned ‘yes, we are prepared to get married!'”

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

Whilst he loves food items and loves to cook dinner (though “he can make a mess” according to Sally), it was the front-of-home duties that held Lucio in the business enterprise.

“His forte is with the individuals,” Sally reported.

“He loves talking to men and women, creating people today delighted.”

Sally joined the business enterprise in 1997 just after a profession in advertising and marketing, though their two children Matteo and Michela experienced in hospitality and now also function for the restaurant.

‘We adhere to the season’

Lucio’s has only had five head cooks in its life span, and most trained the apprentices that then took about the purpose.

George Kohler has been the restaurant’s head chef for the earlier a few decades, and was trained by his predecessor Logan Campbell, who was in Lucio’s kitchen for 12 several years.

The gradual turnover of staff members meant the design of the meals rarely modified and mirrored Lucio’s motto: “We observe the year, not the trend”.

“There is a dish at present on the menu — burrata with tomato,” Mr Kohler informed ABC Sydney.

“We use basil and I have built that into a gel and we inject that into the burrata to make a wow variable.

“[The kitchen] It can be like a shoebox.

“But for a two-hatted institution … it’s remarkable the food items we can develop and get out to the prospects at this sort of a higher normal.”

Until the subsequent enterprise

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

Their future undertaking, although not yet confirmed, will be spearheaded by Matteo and Michela.

“With any luck , we’ll do a little something else with our children but it will be one thing they really feel about it, result in [Lucio’s] was Sally and I,” Lucio explained.

“What I will pass up, and I hope not for prolonged for the reason that I hope to do some thing else, is that I will overlook individuals.

“I will pass up my staff, skip looking at the food currently being ready, the organisation of the kitchen area, the staff in the kitchen area operating so perfectly alongside one another, but absolutely the eating room.

“The dining place is wherever I sense at residence — making sure that folks are owning a great time.

“I will overlook not staying section of their conviviality anymore.”