Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, was inhabited roughly 10,000 years ago. As such, it boasts a particularly rich cultural heritage. An essential, and likely most popular, component of this cultural heritage is Sicilian cuisine. Unfortunately, Sicilian cuisine is mistakenly and lazily often described as a subset of Italian cuisine. Of course, it does reflect obvious Italian, mainly southern Italian, influences. As a whole, though, it is considerably more diverse and contains a substantially greater degree of depth. In addition to being touched and moulded by the Italian mainland, Greek, French, Spanish, Arabic – even Germanic – influences abound. In other words, Sicilian cuisine is unique. It is special. It is to be celebrated, even! At the moment, boarding a plane that delivers you to the capital, Palermo, is not an option. Fortunately for Melburnians, however, genuine Sicilian satisfaction is right at their doorstep in the form of Mister Bianco, the Kew institution that has been introducing diners to the finer points of Sicilian culinary individuality for nearly a decade.

Mister Bianco, located at 285 High Street, is the culmination of owner and chef Joseph Vargetto’s heritage, personal style and vision. Vargetto is a Melbourne-born Sicilian who has traversed the path to self-discovery via retracing the culinary traditions of his familial matriarchs and by embracing his personality and considerably refined kitchen techniques. Generally speaking, Mister Bianco offers a taste of the Mediterranean. Specifically speaking, Mister Bianco offers a taste of Sicily, incorporating a blend of modern Europe and southern Italy. Fortunately for his clientele, Vargetto is keenly attentive to the maintenance of the integrity and authenticity of his parents’ homeland’s food. The à la carte menu is built around local, seasonal produce, by and far the preeminent produce. For example, all pasta is made in house and utilises the beautiful stoneground flour from the Mornington Peninsula’s Tuerong Farm. This local sourcing of produce, in addition to supporting Victorian farmers and suppliers, allows the Mister Bianco menu to evolve effortlessly so as to keep pace with Melbourne’s seasonal food trends. This, as anyone with even a remote familiarity with the city’s hospitality landscape knows, is no mean feat.

Mister Bianco, Kew

VISIT MISTER BIANCO

Mister Bianco, Kew

DINE AT MISTER BIANCO

Mister Bianco, Kew

BOOK MISTER BIANCO

Service commences with the delivery of bread and charcoal salt. After this, freedom of choice takes centre stage. Starters include the antipasto for two – San Daniele prosciutto, Parmigiana Reggiano, olives, pickles and grissini – arancini of pumpkin and taleggio, a common Sicilian street food, or perhaps the chargrilled octopus served with chickpea puree and heirloom tomato. Next in line is the pasta course, perhaps the most difficult decision you will be required to make all evening. Best of luck as you navigate the ricotta gnocchi infused with slow-cooked osso buco, Yarra Valley mushrooms and black pepper; the cavatelli, rabbit ragusana, capers and green olives; and the squid ink-prawn agnolotti del plin accompanied by yellow tomato sugo and bottarga, a delicacy of salted, cured fish roe. The main course will entice you with slow-cooked beef cheeks and celery leaf spätzle – German egg noodles, in other words, which most likely entered the mix during WWII, when Mussolini allowed the Germans to use the island as a fortress – pan-fried humpty-doo barramundi with black olives, salsa verde, tomato and saffron and roasted duck breast garnished with carrot, licorice and grilled plums. Sides of broccolini, roasted potatoes and a butter lettuce salad are available, as well, as is a delectable selection of Sicilian sweets and local and international cheeses.

Overall, the food is well balanced, well portioned and very flavourful. The courses are delivered in a relaxed and timely manner, allowing for maximum enjoyment, and the service is friendly, prompt and professional. As well, the service team is impressively dapper! Bookings are recommended at this charming, warm and art-filled neighbourhood restaurant. Let Mister Bianco introduce you to the refined and multicultural world of Sicilian cuisine. It is a cuisine steeped in history, in tradition and in individuality. Chef Joseph Vargetto awaits your arrival.  

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