Paying tribute to family heritage, an energetic Italian chef and a vision to recreate the culinary soul of northern Italy in Canberra has been a recipe for success for Agostinis restaurant.
Bestowed only on the finest Italian restaurants, the prestigious international accolade signifies the highest quality and authentic food, atmosphere, wine and service as judged by the ICCI with the Italian government in Rome.
First opened in 2017, Agostinis was inspired by sibling owners Dan and Dion Bisa and encapsulates their lifelong passion for authentic, simple Italian food from the Friuli Venezia region in Italy’s north.
Agostinis prides itself on being a unique restaurant serving “authentic regional cuisine made with love”.
The Italian Chamber held a special ceremony in Sydney recently where Executive Chef Francesco Balestrieri and East Hotel’s General Manager Todd Handy proudly accepted the certification.
“We’re so delighted that a family-style restaurant in Canberra, with authentic Italian atmosphere, staff and food can receive this type of recognition,” Mr Handy told Region Media.
“To be the first to receive this accolade in a town with a variety of Italian restaurants is fantastic – especially as we are very true to Italy, outside of the country itself.”
With the local Italian community embracing the popular eatery – including senior diplomats – Mr Handy said these regular customers were “very proud of this achievement because they have become like family too.”
“I think they share in the pride as they love pieces of home right here in Canberra,” Mr Handy said.
Co-owner Ms Bisa said it was a tremendous honour to receive the exclusive certification, requiring the restaurant to meet specific criteria for dining experience and authenticity.
“From the very beginning, we wanted to create a genuine and authentic Italian restaurant in Canberra that reflected our own wonderful dining experiences, both in Italy and around the family table.”
The Ospitalità Italiana certification is not only judged on food – it’s about service quality, restaurant staff speaking Italian with customers and the menu containing ingredients sourced from Italy.
For example, Agostinis sources flour for its time-honoured pizzas and pasta as well as olive oil and some wines directly from Italy.
While the vision of Agostinis has come from the family’s desire to create a truly Italian experience that reminded them of home, some of this success has been driven by the enthusiasm and inspirational leadership of the chef.
“We’ve been fortunate to have Francesco. He’s so passionate, energetic and is great for spreading his passion through the whole team – he trains them on the true Italian way!” Mr Handy said.
The accommodation hotel has also benefitted from the food and beverage offerings.
“Our conferencing and events business has really improved because everybody loves the food – it’s all made fresh onsite, which is rare,” Mr Handy said.
“Our takeaway business has also taken off – as we’ve become a local destination for people wanting delicious and fresh takeaway pizza and pasta.”
One of the major attractions of the restaurant is its state-of-the-art rotating Marana Forni pizza oven. Imported from Verona, it’s the only one of its kind in Canberra and is capable of cooking 15 pizzas at once as well as metre-long pizzas.
The restaurant must be certified every year to maintain its authentic Italian status.