Who is Dino Martiniello? I’m the co-owner of Herbert’s at Evatt.
Best recent dining experience: Afternoon beers and antipasto at Agostini’s. Those guys know good ingredients and that sometimes, you don’t need to do much, if anything, to celebrate them.
Most embarrassing pantry item: Masterfoods dried Italian herbs – even though I can blame my wife for that one, my mum would still be so ashamed if she knew.
Must-buy ingredient: Garlic, for sure. So many good recipes start with garlic.
Next big thing: Customer service.
I know it’s not really a new thing, but good customer service seems to be becoming increasingly rare, especially with the advent of in-app ordering that the pandemic has brought about.
Favourite place for breakfast in the ACT: Forrest Specialty Coffee. I’m yet to be disappointed by their food, coffee and service.
My Canberra food secret: 65 Northbourne for sure. It’s always a pleasure to find another venue that shares the same values as we do when it comes to quality food and excellent customer service.
Biggest culinary influence: The Two Greedy Italians – Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo. They know how to respect and celebrate the flavours of fresh and quality ingredients without doing too much.
Favourite cookbook: Cooking With Beer by Paul Mercurio. A lot of ideas and inspiration for Herbert’s came from there.
Who do I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: I might stretch this one to the region, if I may: Tim Martin of Tumut River Brewing Company.
Not to diminish what our local brewing talents are doing, but Tim has been a huge support and mentor over the past few years and while Tumut is not exactly Canberra, and beer is not wine, I’d be remiss not to mention the great work and great beers from this close regional neighbour.
What’s on the menu this week: This week we’ll be doing our garlic and brown sugar chicken skewers and we have One Drop Brewing Co’s ‘Void’ on tap. It’s a cherry, blackcurrant and black passionfruit imperial sour ale that is incredibly rich and complex, definitely one for the more seasoned craft beer drinkers out there.
Where I’m going next: With the staffing issues that the whole industry is facing at the moment, we have decided that this year will be more about consolidating our business, instead of focusing on growing it.
Of course, we’d love to open another venue, but we can’t grow our business until we find more staff that will love it as much as we do.
Death row meal: Tomahawk steak Surf and Turf, served with a couple of pints of sour ale. I assume I’ll have as long as I need to finish it!
My COVID response: We opened our restaurant on the second of April 2020. Being right at the start of the global lockdown, we couldn’t have picked a worse week to open a hospitality venue. We abandoned our initial concept of serving primarily bar bites and share plates to a basic takeaway menu consisting of a few burgers, fish and chips, and a schnitty that we still do due to its popularity.
We then slowly grew our menus and services as the easing of restrictions allowed and being so familiar with the lockdown model, we were quick to pivot back to a takeaway service for the second lockdown. We’re still continually improving on what we do and we’re big supporters of live music. We have some great gigs coming up. We’ll also be hosting a few exhibits for some of our local artists.
Funnily enough, we still haven’t operated at full capacity, so we don’t know what that looks like, but I can’t wait to see it!
My really simple recipe tip: Do just that: keep it simple! Use fresh, quality ingredients and don’t do too much. They will speak for themselves if you respect them.
Herbert at Evatt’s is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 pm, Friday from 11:30 and weekends from 10 am. See their website for details on menus and closing hours.