Who is Silvio Miceli: I am the owner of Pizza & Pasta Artigiana at Verity Lane Market and Jamison shops.
Best recent dining experience: I haven’t been out a great deal recently with COVID restrictions and setting up our two new shops in Verity Lane, but the one stand out meal was at Capitol Bar & Grill. They have the best steaks in Canberra!
Favourite Cuisine: Well, I guess as an Italian, I have to say Italian cuisine! I think it’s definitely number one, but I rarely eat out in an Italian restaurant, so my second choice would be Sri Lankan food. If you haven’t had a cashew curry, you need to try it!
Most embarrassing pantry item: I have too many to list! For me, the worst would actually be in my freezer – I keep frozen pre-made meals in there all the time in case I can’t be bothered to cook late after work!
Must-buy ingredient: Ricotta is the magic ingredient for anything! We have it in a lot of our dishes, it’s just so creamy and tasty without being heavy. It can go with pizzas, pastas and salads. It’s so versatile.
Next big thing: Every second chef I speak to is telling me they want to cook with fire, so I would have to say that is most likely going to be the newest trend over the next year.
Favourite place for lunch in the ACT: Terra is my go-to lunch spot. I love the way you can put together your own combinations and the food is always so delicious. It’s like an upmarket canteen!
My Canberra food secret: Not sure if I can call it a secret, but my go-to Italian restaurant in Canberra is La Cantina in Narrabundah. The food is excellent and I rarely eat Italian food when I go out so that’s saying something.
Biggest culinary influence: This is a no brainer, my family! When I was little, we would visit my Nonna in Tuscany and I would watch her, my mother and my aunties and uncles cooking their masterpieces. They all had their special dishes. Obviously, I stayed in the kitchen as the official taste tester! My Mother is definitely the biggest influence, though. Always just a phone call away when I can’t remember a recipe!
Favourite cookbook: To be honest, I don’t read a lot of cookbooks. I find them to be too static for me, but I watch a lot of cooking videos where I can get the look and feel of the dish more effectively. I love the videos made by Gennaro Contaldo. He has so much passion that you just want to eat everything he makes!
Who I admire on the Canberra food and wine scene: I have a lot of respect for the original crew at Verity Lane Market. Gerald Ong and Esther Loke of Enoki Project (now Sourdog Provisions) and Eddie Tsai of Ramen Daddy. When we opened at Verity Lane, there was so much uncertainty, but we built this special vibe, and it became one of the most enjoyable work experiences I’ve had so far.
What’s on the menu this week: Pasta Artigiana at Verity Lane is kicking goals at the moment, and the new Tagliolini al Granchio is the latest addition to the menu. We don’t normally have too many seafood dishes as we are landlocked in Canberra, but the combination of the squid ink tagliolini from Puglia, crab meat and bottarga in an Aglio e olio is an absolute must-try!
Where I’m going next: Our next project is actually coming very soon at our Jamison restaurant. We will be opening the pasta kitchen at the end of June! It will completely transform the space as we will be able to offer a more complete menu for lunch and dinner, and also partner with Italy’s best coffee, Illy, to offer a breakfast menu.
Death row meal: Hands down my Mother’s spinach and ricotta cannelloni! She makes it with crêpes instead of pasta, so it becomes super delicate. We have tried to recreate it at Pasta Artigiana, but it will never be as good as hers!
My COVID-19 response: COVID was a very stressful time for everyone and the hospitality industry was hit pretty hard. For us, it was pretty simple as we began as a takeaway business six years ago, so we just pivoted back to that. I managed to keep all my staff, and our regular customers made sure that they were ordering regularly, which kept us afloat through the early months. To be honest, the heroes were our fantastic customers who were so thoughtful and supportive.
My really simple recipe tip: A short, easy recipe that can be prepared in very little time? You can’t go wrong with pasta! All you need is olive oil, garlic, chilli and parmesan and you have a killer Aglio e Olio. If you happen to have some prosciutto in the fridge to add, then that’s a bonus!