The shoulder pads, shiny suits and clouds of Opium perfume will be absent, but the menu and charisma of Il Casino's 1980s heyday will return to Wellington this August.
The renowned restaurant will be recreated for five nights during the Wellington on a Plate food festival by Lorenzo and Leonardo Bresolin, whose father Remiro ran the Tory St hot spot, painted with a huge mural of Venice, from 1976 to 2006.
The revival was a tribute to larger-than-life Remiro, who died in 2007, and was something the brothers had wanted to do for years, Leonardo said.
"Every year it's harder and harder for people to come up with new ideas for Wellington on a Plate. We thought this one should blow things out of the water."
Classic Il Casino dishes such as veal scallopini and crayfish bisque will feature in a Venetian degustation menu, though the brothers are also open to requests from former regulars.
Chef Lucas Tock will modernise archive recipes, while Il Casino stalwart Bob Foote will select and serve Tuscan wines.
The feast was intended to be held in the brothers' new restaurant, The Bresolin, at the old Bodega site. But building delays have pushed its launch back to September, so the Il Casino revival will be staged at another Bresolin eatery, Crazy Horse.
The brothers said they regularly encountered former Il Casino customers at their restaurants, who shared how special the Tory St joint was to them.
Remiro Bresolin introduced Italian food to Wellingtonians at a time when olive oil was available only in pharmacies, and calamari was regarded as fish food.
"He was the first person to serve 'bait' to paying customers, and now it's on every pub menu in Wellington," Lorenzo said.
The brothers plan to attend each Il Casino dinner, and expect memories will flow among guests, aided by original mementoes such as the restaurant guest books and autographs that once hung in the piano bar.
"It'll be like a big family dinner every night, with plenty of stories about Dad, whether good or bad," Leonardo said.
"Longstanding customers of our father's and ours, they've seen us grow up at Il Casino," Lorenzo said.
"We were kids running around there, then teenagers working there, and now, 15 years later, we're still upholding the family name and the lessons our old man gave us."
Visa Wellington on a Plate was launched in 2009 to showcase the region's food and drink sector. This year's event, from August 15 to 31, will feature 98 restaurants, 118 events, and 69 entries to the best burger competition.
- The Dominion Post
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