This month’s Mount Zero Hero is chef Marco Lori of Lupino Melbourne.
Signposted by a neon wolf over the door Lupino – or little wolf – is a sophisticated and relaxed Trattoria* situated on the Spring Street end of Little Collins Street in Melbourne’s CBD.
The restaurant’s stylish interior combines terracotta tiling, macramé and a curved bar with a wood and marble bench top. It’s an aesthetic which subtly evokes memories of restaurants past, visited on travels and in childhood.
Marco has been creating Italian cuisine for Melbourne customers for three decades – ever inspired by family dinners growing up and the birth country of his parents.
“I love my Italian background and that’s why I chose to concentrate on this type of cuisine. I used to help mum to make pasta growing up, and that’s where my love of food and preparing it came from. I enjoy seeing everyone’s happy faces together around the table – it’s a great reward.”
Prior to opening Lupino, Marco was a part of the team behind Melbourne’s Becco. His work there attracted a loyal customer base as well as two hats from the Age Good Food Guide. Lupino is the second time Marco and manager Richard Lodge, who were business partners at Becco, have worked together.
“At Lupino we wanted to create a Trattoria. Our main focus is our daily produce, including our house-made pastas, bread & pizza.”
Marco is proud that some of his regulars have supported him for 30 years. A fact he believes is due to his hands on and friendly approach - we suspect is also very much due to his skills in the kitchen!
Q&A with Marco Lori
What are your career highlights to date?
There are too many highlights, but one that I really loved was when I was working at the River Cafe in London and did a few shifts with Jamie Oliver.
What is your current favourite menu item and why?
We have a dish called Rotolo - which is a filling rolled in pasta sheets (like a big salami!) then wrapped in cloth, tied, poached, cooled and finally baked in the oven.
That sounds absolutely amazing! Where do you source your produce for that and all your other menu items?
I have a heap of suppliers that I love buying selected items from, they’re mostly local but there are a couple of imported ones too. If anything local catches my eye I always love to try and support them.
What feedback do you receive from your regular customers?
My regulars have been supporting me for three decades - so it would have to be that I am hands on and consistent.
What is your all-time favourite kitchen tool?
My pasta machine!
What would you be doing, if you weren’t in the food business?
Definitely something to do with cycling…
One word to describe Mount Zero Olives….
“Partnership” (as in with my food).
We are continually building the ultimate Foodie’s bucket list – please add your tips….
Without a doubt the stuffed fried olives that my mum makes and are part of my family’s food heritage – you must try them!
Do you have any special plans/ or a dream project for 2017?
To keep exploring food and wine overseas, by bike!
Ciao Marco! Thank you so much for your time this month and for providing your delicious recipes.
*Traditionally a trattoria is less formal than a ‘ristorante’, but more formal than an ‘osteria’ – which usually serves wine and simple food. There are generally no printed menus, the service is casual and the emphasis is on a steady clientele rather than on haute cuisine.