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A traditional paninoteca arrives in Mildura

Words by Richard Cornish
Images supplied

It is less than two weeks old but lovers of Italian food are already heading up the Calder to eat at Mildura’s latest Italian offering. It’s called The Italian, Mildura and it is the convergence of two well know local chefs Sandra Imbesi and Brad Fyfe.

Sandra had a business making cannoli and cakes and was the go-to caterer for local Italian weddings and parties. Brad was Executive Chef at Stefano’s for many years, was a lecturer at the local TAFE and had a modern Australian / Asian eatery called Solunar at the Alfred Deakin Centre. They met in January last year and fell in love. They soon joined forces with the idea of creating a vibrant Italian / Australian dining space and takeaway in the heart of the big town in Victoria’s far northwest.


The Italian

The Italian Mildura opened the Tuesday before Easter. It’s a 52-seater with a clean modern New York subway tiles feel. The menu represents the modern paninoteca style of eating. Excellent ciabatta filled with food, mostly sourced from local farmers. “I am a strong believer in supporting the local and traditional style of Italian immigrant farming,” says Brad, a leader in the local Slow Food movement. “So we ask local farmers to grow our globe artichoke for our artichoke paste, our porcinis, cime di rape (turnip tops) which we preserve for our panini.”

The pair have also become known for Sandra’s lasagne, made to her mum’s recipe which sees a beef brisket ragu with ham and peas sandwiched between layers of fresh pasta. No bechamel! A similar ragu fills the arancini and the lasagne repertoire also sees a chicken and porcini version – available seasonally. Plans are in place to bottle up some local wine from Chalmer’s and serve it in water glasses. “It is something very Mildura,” says Brad. “Homemade style wine in simple glasses.”

Desserts are Sandra’s forte so expect tiramisu, made with Seven Seeds espresso, and cannoli filled with gianduja, that famous hazelnut and choc mix co-opted by a famous breakfast spread, and ricotta and pistachio. Sandra has an extensive repertoire of cakes including flourless orange and pistachio polenta cake. The Italian Mildura is a great celebration of Mildura’s bolito misto melting pot of different Italian cuisines and cultures, brought together in a vibrant and fun shop setting in the heart of this sun-drenched town on the Murray.


Who: Two well-known Mildura chefs have fallen in love, and we have fallen in love with their new offering
What: Pan-Italian café and paninoteca
Where: 94 Langtree Ave, in the heart of Mildura
Why: Great tasting, fresh Italian food made with great ingredients sourced locally
When: Opened just before Easter and now open 9am-3pm
More Info: The Italian

We wish to acknowledge the Latji Latji & Ngintait people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.
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