A Rundle St icon is reborn

For Cono Gorgone, his new restaurant is a homecoming. As he puts the final touches on Italy Cafe Ristorante e Bar in Rundle St, he reflects on the history of the building that was once home to Scoozi, the hub of 1990s cafe culture in Adelaide.

“This building was always a beautiful place,” Cono says. “I was the manager here with Sharon (Romeo) from Fino in the heyday of Scoozi around 1991. It was great.”

Cono never left the East End. He ran the Botanic Cafe on East Tce for nine years and Cono’s Pizzeria and Gelateria before opening Sicily Pizzeria in Rundle St. Cono also owns Sicily Autostrada on Anzac Hwy and will soon launch Sicily Mare Pizzeria in Aldinga.

When the owner of 250sq m former Scoozi site decided it was time for a makeover, he turned to Cono, who jumped at the chance to expand on his Sicily Pizzeria menu.

“After all the years at Sicily Pizzeria I found that a lot of people were still asking for pasta and for meat and seafood dishes that we really don’t serve too much of,” he says. “And I missed cooking the pasta and the main course dishes.

“This building holds a lot of history for Australian Italians and Rundle St in its heyday … where you can have a pizza or a pasta or just drop in for a gelati and hang out. We just wanted to bring this building back to that Italian feel.”

That “Italian feel” means a menu and wine list that spans the Bel Paese, pizzas by chef Adam Zollo cooked in one of the oldest wood-fired ovens in Adelaide; pasta from all of the regions, much of it created by Cono himself; and an interior palette of marble, terrazzo and brushed brass.

“I’ve nicknamed this place the Vatican because we’ve got marble, we’ve got terrazzo and hopefully we’ll get some gold with it,” he says with a smile.

Attentive, on-point table service also makes a welcome return here.

And Cono is looking forward to doing what he loves most – rattling pans in a kitchen again. “I’m excited about doing a good old bistecca fiorentina – a good 500g T-bone steak – and cooking pastas.

“I’ve walked up and down this street that many times and been fortunate enough to meet some of the greatest characters in this city – I’m proud to be part of this building and this street.”

8am-11pm, Sun-Thu; 8am-midnight Fri-Sat, 272 Rundle St, city, italyristorante.com.au

A Rundle St icon is reborn by Gordon Knight originally seen on Adelaide Now 12 February 2020.

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