Hot in the City: Cucina Ristorante’s wood-fired deliciousness extends to their breakfast menu

Michelle Taylor15 November 2020
The Gamberi pizza

The Gamberi pizza! Photos: Michelle Taylor.

Nicholls’ newest restaurant has debuted strong in the toughest of times, delighting locals with their food trifecta: delicious Italian cuisine, an inventive breakfast menu and a display case stocked with luscious cakes to enjoy with your cup of coffee.

Integral to much of what Cucina Ristorante does is their pièce de résistance: a wood-fired oven churning out mouthwatering pizzas, breads and breakfast dishes!

This trattoria was very nearly called the Red Onion. Owner Sam says it was close, but Cucina, the Italian word for ‘kitchen’, won out.

And as we enter Cucina Ristorante, shaking off the drizzle of another rainy spring night in Canberra, the restaurant envelopes us in warmth and familiar aromas, very much like a Nonna’s comforting, homey kitchen.

The original concept was that he would run a coffee cart out of the vacant liquor store next to the Nicholls IGA. But after a walkthrough of the site, Sam says he couldn’t sleep that night. In fact, thoughts of that space and its potential stayed with him all week. And, somehow, despite never having owned one before, he could imagine a thriving pizzeria operating out of the space.

Cucina Ristorante owner Sam

Cucina Ristorante owner Sam greets you with his big smile.

With the building’s owner backing Sam 100 per cent, Cucina began to materialise.

“By February, the momentum was steady,” he says. “Cucina’s interiors were on the way and the plumbing was just going in when the COVID-19 lockdown began.”

Sam credits the support of the local neighbourhood, who faithfully ordered takeaway meals, for getting the new restaurant through its first year. He is thankful to for the Cucina team who have become family.

“I hit the jackpot with our head chef Raja. He came from San Francisco. He brings that style to our dishes. And our pizza chef Sujan is fantastic.”

Sam is a can-do guy who has been in the food game for a long time.

Cucina is his first restaurant, but he has previously owned a couple of cafes in Canberra. For many years he also worked in distribution, first with Farm Small Goods, before moving on to form his own company, Fine Food Distributors. But an itch persisted, a deep desire to create a place where people gather over good food. And Sam loves what he does – you can see it in his big smile and in the warmth with which he greets diners.

If you are having dinner here, one way to experience a wide selection of Cucina’s menu is to order the banquet.

The entree includes antipasti, calamari and garlic bread while main course serves up four different pizzas and four different pasta dishes.

Dessert features tiramisu profiteroles with locally made gelato and New York cheesecake.

For our dinner, we start with bruschetta – balsamic-marinated tomato slices on wood-fired bread, drizzled with olive oil.

Our Cucina salad is a delicate balance of bitter and sweet, radicchio tossed with the magical trio of toasted walnuts, pear slices and pungent morsels of goat’s cheese. A subtle hit of maple syrup sweetens the tangy dressing.

We enjoy the flavours in the homemade ravioli, one of the day’s specials. The tender ravioli is stuffed with beetroot and ricotta and topped with sautéed mushrooms, olive oil, rocket, cherry tomatoes, parsley and toasted walnuts. I hope it stays on the specials board for a long time. It is delicious.

Our Gamberi pizza is a white sauce base baked with spinach, leeks, prawns and mascarpone. First, that crust! Perfectly crisp outside with a tender, spongy interior, the wood-fired oven has worked its magic, infusing every bite with smoky deliciousness. The toppings go together well and the drizzle of chilli oil is subtle and perfect. Scrumptious and satisfying!

Cucina team

Part of the Cucina team.

Make sure you pop in and experience breakfast at Cucina. They had me at Wood-fire Breakfast! Sam describes it.

“Think bacon, mushroom, tomato and string beans on our homemade bread. We put it into the wood-fire oven for a few minutes. It gets all cooked up, comes out, and then we crack the eggs on top and then put them back in the oven until done.”

Wood-fire Breakfast

Wood-fire Breakfast? It’s a yes from me!

Cucina Ristorante is located at 29/88 Kelleway Ave in Nicholls.

Cucina is open for coffee and cake every morning. It is open Wednesday to Friday for lunch from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm and for dinner from 5:00 pm to late.

On Saturday and Sunday it is open from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and then for dinner from 5:00 pm until late. They do takeaway and will soon be available on Uber.

Follow them on Facebook and Instagram or check out their menu on their website.

Original Article published by Michelle Taylor on The RiotACT.

What's Your Opinion?

38 Responses to Hot in the City: Cucina Ristorante’s wood-fired deliciousness extends to their breakfast menu

Donna Reimer Donna Reimer 6:14 pm 16 May 21

That’s a shame

Singalongwith Chris Singalongwith Chris 8:16 pm 15 May 21

Just visited for first time based on the reviews. Was really looking forward to trying the food. Got to say, the only restaurant I have entered to see people wearing puffy jackets and coats, while they were eating. Normally, people would take them off. We sat down and soon realised why, the place was like an igloo. My wife recently had surgery and the last thing she needs is to be sitting in a restaurant that has no heating. We asked if they could turn on heater, but then decided, given how cold it was, better to find somewhere else to eat. When I go out, I want to be comfortable when I eat. Very disappointing.

Susan Anderson Susan Anderson 8:41 pm 16 Nov 20

Good is fantastic.....

Denis Faganello Denis Faganello 8:41 pm 16 Nov 20

Great pizza

Eloise Baxter Eloise Baxter 9:23 pm 15 Nov 20

Naomi maybe they have tiramisu lol

Bernie Jane Bernie Jane 9:13 pm 15 Nov 20

Yaaaay Italian food OOo nom nom nom ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

Monique Pearce Monique Pearce 9:06 pm 15 Nov 20

Morgana our next coffee date post drop off!!

Roseanne Howes Roseanne Howes 7:45 pm 15 Nov 20

Well worth a visit.

Paul Leins Paul Leins 7:41 pm 15 Nov 20

Amazing pizzas!

JR. Atkins JR. Atkins 6:18 pm 15 Nov 20

Leonie Norris Haven’t been here but it’s local-ish.

Christopher Cuba Rabanal Christopher Cuba Rabanal 5:09 pm 15 Nov 20

You had us @ wood fired ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I’ll be trying that prawn pizza 🍕

Eleni Dimanoski Eleni Dimanoski 4:21 pm 15 Nov 20

Jimmy the place we saw last night

Amanda Street Amanda Street 3:37 pm 15 Nov 20

Kirsten Page, let's have brunch!

Markus Bruun Markus Bruun 3:25 pm 15 Nov 20

Peta Bruun-Bryan. Look who it is ;).

Krystal Eppelstun-Lee Krystal Eppelstun-Lee 3:03 pm 15 Nov 20

Bridgid Edwards we should try this place next?

Jazminka North Jazminka North 2:56 pm 15 Nov 20

My little basketballer is hoping you’ve got Smartie cookies Sam 🙂

Carla Allmich-Caira Carla Allmich-Caira 2:41 pm 15 Nov 20

Gary Caira that basketball guy has got his restaurant up and running

    Gary Caira Gary Caira 3:07 pm 15 Nov 20

    Carla Allmich-Caira awesome, we need to get there!!!

Red Van Der Toorn Red Van Der Toorn 2:39 pm 15 Nov 20

We popped in for coffee and it was lovely ...

Shane L.J. Ryan Shane L.J. Ryan 2:02 pm 15 Nov 20

I love their bruschetta! And they have a great al fresco dining area out the front. :)

Narrelle McPhail Narrelle McPhail 1:58 pm 15 Nov 20

Toa Lavaka Antonietta Guarino we should try this one