03/08/2004 - 22:00

Gusto

03/08/2004 - 22:00

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Michael de Marte has been busy the past year establishing St Georges Terrace coffee icon Rosso Espresso but, as Julie-anne Sprague reports, his attention has reverted to Shafto Lane where he plans to relaunch Café Bocca this September.

Gusto

Michael de Marte has been busy the past year establishing St Georges Terrace coffee icon Rosso Espresso but, as Julie-anne Sprague reports, his attention has reverted to Shafto Lane where he plans to relaunch Café Bocca this September.

 

Shafto Lane’s Café Bocca is about to undergo a significant refurbishment starting in the kitchen and extending right out to its alfresco courtyard.

Name changes, wall-colour changes, new furniture and a reinvigorated cooking team will form part of the new look aimed at breathing new life into a West End icon according to its co-owner Michael de Marte.

“We’re enclosing the verandah area and the courtyard will stay open but we will create a boundary on each side with some walls and we’re having some outdoor banquet seating and we’ll plant some olive trees and lemon trees,” he says.

“In summer we take out every square inch of space but we’re changing that, once we’re full we’re full.”

Along with new paint, graphics and logos will come new equipment.

“We are getting new equipment in the kitchen, we’re refining the menu because we do have this pizza oven in from Italy,” Mr de Marte says.

Part of the change is already in place with the appointment of former Duende head chef Graham Arthur, who is refining the menu and developing a strong kitchen team capable of consistently delivering quality food. 

Mr Arthur has come on board as a consultant and assumed the head chef position until September when he’ll hand over the reigns to an already hired but unnamed chef and act more as an adviser.

The concept should work for a range of different venues according to Mr Arthur, who left Duende to set up his own business, Graham Arthur Catering. Cafe Bocca is his first client and, along with the chef consultancy side, GAC is a catering business focused on weddings and private dinner parties.

Mr Arthur has taken on the role as interim head chef to make the necessary changes, from food to staffing.

“I’m looking at the standards from staff, to training, to recipes,” Mr Arthur says.

He says setting up his own company was a natural career progression.

“When you’re in the kitchen you’re working really long hours – 70 to 90 hours a week sometimes. You’re too involved in working in the business to think of better ideas and I think it’s good to have an outsider’s point of view because the best things come from having an open mind.”

Mr Arthur has had plenty of experience at setting up good kitchens and good teams.

Nic Trimboli has employed him over the years when establishing his restaurants, Duende, Balthazar and E’Cucina (now owned by Steve Smith).

“We’re going to go back to a Mediterranean feel. Everything will be fresh and using food that is in season and being simple about it. Too many places over complicate things,” Mr Arthur says.

For Mr de Marte the changes will add some excitement to running the business.

“We [he and brother Frank] have had this restaurant for four years and we thought we were going to sell it but we’ve changed our minds,” he says. 

“But if we’re doing this full-time we want to refresh it and get excited about it. We were the pioneers of the West End and there are a lot more traders coming in here.”

Along with the renovation and new kitchen team will come new extended trading hours. Friday night has usually been the only night to enjoy dinner at Bocca but from September it will be open for dinner on Wednesday and Friday evenings while maintaining breakfast and lunch trade Monday to Friday.

Mr de Marte expects the renovation to be completed by September when the cafe will then be called Bocca Cafe Pizzeria.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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