Spaghetti and spritzes are a time-honoured Venetian combo that can bring a bit of summer into even the most dreary day. But would the pairing have the same effect if both the pasta and cocktail are radioactive blue?
Restaurateur Mark Filippelli and his best mate Vince Pizzinga are prepared to serve up just that. This April, they're opening Mark + Vinny's Spaghetti and Spritz Bar along Surry Hills' Waterloo Street, offering Sydneysiders sustainable, ethical and vegan fare, some of which looks like it came from another planet.
These colourful creations aren't much of a surprise from Filippelli, who also co-owns Melbourne's Matcha Mylkbar. The cafe's entirely vegan menu made headlines with its blue algae, beetroot and charcoal lattes, and even won our People's Choice Award for Best New Cafe of 2016. Filippelli wasmeant to expand to Sydney in early 2017, but the cafe never arrived. Instead, he's embarking on an entirely new brand for his first Sydney venture — whilst hanging on to the neon food and trademarked vegan 'egg' that Matcha Mylkbar is known for.
There'll be some classic pasta dishes on the menu, including cacio e pepe and spaghetti with short rib ragu, but the eyebrow-raising draws are their more out-there concoctions. Think neon blue spirulina tagliatelle and bright pink beetroot spaghetti, or the charcoal carbonara with vegan egg yolk and cured mushrooms. The vegan eggs are made completely of plant-based products and contain the same protein and amino acid benefits as a real egg — plus they look an awful lot like one, even oozing when poached. Zucchini linguini with chickpea ragu, baby artichokes and avocado velute, and a nut-milk burrata entree also make the menu. The drinks includes a whopping 50 spritzes, with a neon blue spirulina cocktail to match the pasta, of course.
Unlike Matcha Mylkbar, the Mark + Vinny's menu will not be completely vegan, though any meat used will be strictly local, sustainable and ethically raised. The family-style menu focuses, of course, on the spaghetti, with fresh pasta made either in-house or by award-winning, Sydney-based pasta maker Joe Cassaniti (Peppes Pasta).
The duo have smartly recruited head chef Adrian Jankuloski in the kitchen. He's spent considerable time under the tutelage of Maurice Terzini, first at Icebergs and then at the renowned chef's two other venues — acting as sous chef at North Bondi Italian and most recently as senior sous chef for The Dolphin Hotel under Monty Koludrovic.
"[Sydney is] a new exciting market to spread our underlying message to — that a less meat-heavy diet is crucial for the sustainability of our planet's resources and the longevity of our health," says Filippelli. "We are wanting to push the boundaries of food innovation, whilst highlighting the traditional and original Italian recipes, literally passed on from our Nonnas. We think Sydney, and in particular Surry Hills, is the perfect platform to showcase the Mark and Vinny dream."
The radioactive-looking food hype may have worked for Filippelli in the past, but we must admit we're a tad skeptical with the way some of these pastas look. The venture's success certainly remains to be seen — or, rather, tasted.
Mark + Vinny's will open in April at 52 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills. Keep an eye on their Instagram for updates.