Italian food among the vines a passion for Adam

Adam Penberthy of Ballandean Pub and Dear Vincent Wines.

By Tania Phillips

Adam Penberthy of Ballandean Pub and Dear Vincent Wines has always loved Italian food.

Trips to the country only encouraged his love of the cuisine so it’s probably a little surprising that in his year’s of owning restaurants that he’s never had an Italian restaurant.

But all that is about to change thank’s to a food truck called Rosa now open at Dear Vincent Wines.

“We own a few things down here on the Granite Belt,” he said.

“We own the Ballandean Pub which is down on the corner but before that we bought a vineyard down here called, well it was called St Judes Vineyard, but we’ve renamed it to Dear Vincent which is our new wine label.

“But there is an absolute need for more food and beverage places in this part of the world, particularly as we’re now going into the busy season of the year.

“So, Rosa’s is our new little Italian pop-up restaurant to provide an alternate cuisine to the market down here and it’s going off.”

Rosa’s is now parked at Dear Vincent winery and serving meals to customers in a rustic outdoor setting with barrel tables and plenty of fire pits.

“It’s just a food truck, a regular food truck,” he said.

“But I call it an upscale food truck. It’s what you’d see at the markets, a rectangular box but we serve everything on plates. It’s not takeaway plates. This means consumers have a bit more of an upscale experience. It’s really cool, it’s just a very casual menu.

“We actually launched the new menu last week which was our first week of proper trade. The menu kind of mirrors a restaurant in Sydney that I love called Toddy’s where it’s just lots of small plates, all share, grazing style Italian food. So, we’ve kind of gone down that same path. You can get a plate of prosciutto or a plate of mortadella and things like that.

“There are sardines on the menu- all geared to sharing. We serve it with pillow bread – like a puffed sort of bread. It’s very much like a family dining affair, as if you were in a family’s residence in Italy.”

He said his love of the cuisine and the strong Italian community on the Granite Belt was the inspiration behind the Rosa’s.

“I love Italian food,” he admitted.

“We have spent so much time in Italy over the years, it was a no brainer I’ve always wanted to open up an Italian food outlet so this is my opportunity.

“It’s cool.”

Given he is such a fan of the cuisine, if Adam was going to eat Italian food – what would he chose?

“Oh, listen I love ragus,” he was quick to answer.

“The chef we have there is doing some incredible stuff. She is making this mushroom ragu pasta with homemade with Pappardelle pasta. This is kind of mounted with oodles of marsala liqueur and cream and then oodles of butter and herbs. It’s just mouth-watering.

“She has some really cool things that she is working on down there. But that ragu is my pick of it.”

Imagine tucking into a melt in your mouth ragu, with a view of the vineyard.

“It’s all very rustic, our cellar door,” Adam explained.

“But we have a broader vision and construction to do and development in the next six to 12 months.

“So, this is just a pop-up at the moment. It’s up at the vineyard, again it’s rustic, it’s all old picking bins that the guys have put a tabletop on, and people sit around that. We have firepits up there, it’s a great little experience.

“It’s been a lot of fun (setting up) and the other side of it is the local produce. We’re buying just about everything from the region and the dishes change every week based on the produce availability. We are working with a number farms direct which is pretty incredible. We are doing the same thing at the pub as well, probably not to the same level that we’re doing with Rosa.

“Rosa is pretty much exclusively local produce and it’s great because we operate in a food bowl down here. This is one of the best regions in the country for growing so many things, whether it be tomatoes during the summer period, berries. It’s a joy for us to showcase that local produce.

“The team get really excited about that kind of stuff and you know it’s good for the economy as well, if we can put dollars directly into a local small business we’ll prioritise that.”

He said it was definitely achieving a long-held dream for him.

“I’ve owned lots of restaurants, but I have never had anything Italian focussed,” Adam enthused.

“So, this is a bit of a passion project, but it’s a passion project with some really talented people who are doing some cool stuff with local produce.

“We have spent so much time in Italy over the years we love it, love the culture, love the people, love the food, love the wine and really some of our most treasured memories from travels are from Italy and include food and wine.

“As I said this is very much a passion project but just with some epic people making very good food.”