‘Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in’ says Vic Prineas with a typically cheeky laugh, talking about his newest venture Luca Brasserie, due to open at Bailey’s Corner in early October. Two Godfather references in one sentence are no doubt fitting for this Godfather of Canberra pizza as he prepares to return to the CBD and reflects on coming full circle.
Of course, if you’re not old enough to remember Canberra in the early 80s, you may not be old enough to remember Sorrento’s, the old pizza joint tucked away in a corner of Garema Place; the family business he presided over as a younger man at a time when pizza was still a novelty and tumbleweeds blew through the city post 5 pm.
With the affable Vic at the helm – whose particular skill set involved pumping out a steady stream of delicious pizzas while simultaneously cracking up regulars with witty banter and other shenanigans – it inevitably became a drop-in for various wiseguys and wogboys of a certain generation.
Having had their fill of delicious pizza but still struggling to tear themselves away after closing time, more often than not they would kick on with an impromptu, rambling soccer game encompassing the entire perimeter of an otherwise deserted Garema Place until the early hours – or at least until either the local constabulary moved them on or Vic decided to call it a night…
That was then, this is now. Vic went on to set up a number of food businesses, including Queanbeyan’s iconic Central Café. Three decades later, just as he was considering calling time on his hospitality career, he was made an offer too good to refuse.
He now finds himself back in the city in the location previously occupied by Tosolini’s and more recently, the nicely refurbished but struggling-to-find-its-groove Social & Co, a restaurant and bar boasting a seriously imposing wood-fired pizza oven.
And what should one do when one finds themselves with an offer too good to refuse that includes a seriously imposing wood-fired pizza oven? Open a mafia themed pizza joint of course!
As expected, the menu at Luca Brasserie will be dominated by pizza. Vic has been itching to get back to this type of cooking and quietly honing his philosophy. He’s betting his experience with classic flavours coupled with a more modern touch will prove a winner.
Nonetheless, the list will be comprehensive, with all pizzas named after characters from the Godfather films and Mafioso folklore–and I can only suspect the Luca Brassi will feature seafood!
It won’t all be about pizza though. Mediterranean styled share items, including antipasto and generously portioned seafood platters, will be offered alongside pasta dishes and steaks. All will be priced with affordability in mind; so expect a pleasant surprise when your bill arrives.
Beer taps will be dominated by boutique brands and locally brewed craft offers, and the evolving wine list, with some solid Aussies, one or two locals and a smattering of Europeans, is looking like a winner at this stage.
We still have a few weeks before Luca Brasserie is in full swing; but at this stage, there’s only one thing to say about a place that is promising an affordable and classic Mediterranean menu, a fun atmosphere and a range of great tap beers and wines in the city: