07/05/2008 - 22:00

Traditional fare at the cantina

07/05/2008 - 22:00

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A new eatery to open in Mount Lawley this week will offer a taste of traditional Europe focusing on seasonal fare and regional specialties in the tradition of the European canteen.

Traditional fare at the cantina

A new eatery to open in Mount Lawley this week will offer a taste of traditional Europe focusing on seasonal fare and regional specialties in the tradition of the European canteen.

The men behind the venture, local chef and entrepreneur Michael Forde and retail owner Alex Cuccovia, say Cantina 663 will be a first for Perth in terms of its menu and setting.

The business partners bought out the lease for the space formerly occupied by Café Mozart, at 663 Beaufort Street in the Astor Arcade.

“We’ve been looking at this site on and off for a couple of years and the concept is just something we wanted to do for a long time,” Mr Forde told Gusto.

He says Cantina 663 will focus on fresh and seasonal products with a menu that will constantly change depending on what is in season.

“It’s a rustic Italian and Spanish cantina, the vibe is basically that we’ll serve what’s in season. It’s very cliched but tomatoes, four or five months a year we don’t serve. The menu will continually evolve and change; whatever comes on the market we’ll use,” Mr Forde says.

The pair has worked hard to source the right products and suppliers from around the state, and will import produce from Spain and Italy.

“We want to use as much Western Australian product and as much organic product as we can,” Mr Forde says.

“We’ve found a couple of people who have pigs and asparagus from the Swan Valley, we get free-range eggs from Busselton, which is as good as we can get because you don’t seem to get organic eggs in WA.”

Cantina 663 has a provincial and homely feel to it with a large marble bar in the middle of the room, comfortable old-style chairs, and shelves displaying produces.

“We stripped the old paint back to try to make it look like one of those old estates in Italy when all the paint is falling off,” Mr Forde says.

The owners aim to keep prices “reasonable”, with most dishes  less than $30 so people can afford to come regularly, as they would with a traditional cantina.

“The food is going to be rustic; it won’t be cut to the millimetre. We focus on the produce and we want to try to keep it reasonably priced,” Mr Forde says.

“We want people to treat it like they might be coming down two or three times a week, have a coffee in the morning take a panini on their way back to work, and come back in the evening and have dinner. That’s a cantina that you are using all the time.”

The wine list will be fairly small, with four white and four reds, and Messrs Forde and Cuccovia are planning to offer a wine in barrel to be served by the carafe.

“Very Italiano, again. We’ll have the barrel sitting on the bar, a good wine, and [when the wine’s gone] we’ll sell the barrel and get another one from someone else,” Mr Forde says.

The kitchen will be headed by Matthew Brookes, formerly of Melbourne restaurant Becco, with Canadian chefs Lucas Gatti and Will Cody also on board.

Breakfast is from 7am until 2.30pm and lunch from noon. The kitchen will be open all day with counter service until 5.30pm, when Cantina 663 becomes a restaurant until 10-11pm.

Dishes for two, such as a whole fish to share, antipasto, salads and pastas will be a feature.

Cantina 663 seats up to 40 people inside and up to 40 people in the alfresco area, which is located under the arcade and on the street.

The restaurant doesn’t take bookings except for the two tables of 10 or more.

Mr Forde recently came back from three years in Kalgoorlie where he owns a pub business.

He has worked at Jones’ Restaurant, E’Cucina, and Lamonts, and also spent two years working at London’s award winning restaurant, The Sugar Club, as well as Ezard at the Adelphi in Melbourne.

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