While many operators might be inclined to adopt the old ‘if it ain’t broke’ approach, Lupo’s owners Brad and Thea Pearce alongside their son Harry have never been ones to follow the pack. Having survived some of the toughest years in hospitality and come out the other side is no mean feat. For the Pearce family, however, Covid was a catalyst for them to take a step back and reevaluate. The more they thought about it, the more appealing the concept of the micro restaurant became – less staff, fewer overheads, a seasonal, set menu and a more intimate experience for diners – it all made perfect sense. Once the new vision had been decided, they got to work splitting the space to create two smaller restaurants – Piatto and the soon-to-open Cantina. In many ways the two venues represent the two sides of Lupo – Cantina will be focused on Spanish-style bar bites and colourful cocktails, while Piatto provides a slightly more elevated dining experience. Oh, and those who were fond of Lupo’s signature horseshoe-shaped bar will be pleased to know that it’s been carved into two with each of the new tiny restaurants claiming a piece.
Literally translated to mean ‘plate’, Piatto is a cosy Italian-inspired restaurant that is the culmination of all of the Pearce family’s past hospitality ventures. Brad has funneled his incredible breadth of culinary experience into a succinct menu that invites diners to choose any three dishes for $79 per person. Begin with a bite from the antipasto selection, such as marinated artichokes with whipped ricotta, before moving on to the primo dishes, which include three different kinds of pasta. The freshly made prawn and fennel cannelloni is an early stand-out, while meat-free mates will love the silk handkerchiefs with mushrooms and egg yolk. As for the secondo selections, diners can choose between King George whiting, free-range chicken breast diavola or Mediterranean vegetable torta. Bring your meal to a sweet end with a dessert handmade by Thea. When it comes to the tipples the selection is similarly concise, offering a clutch of Campari-based cocktails, Italian beer and wine. With only 16 seats, plus four at the bar, Piatto may be small in footage, but it certainly isn’t lacking in atmosphere. Piatto is spirited, dimly lit and utterly charming. Bookings are strongly recommended.