You could say that the trio behind Heidelburger Bar has food running through their blood.
Siblings Izzi La Brocca and Anna Mandolfo grew up in the Italian town of Gaeta, north of Naples, where their family had a fresh fish business. “We ate fish every day. Sunday was our only meat day. Mum would do something different every day, always using fish, because we had all these different varieties. It could be pasta or just fried or grilled fish on its own,” recalls La Brocca. “Being part of a traditional Italian family, we were always involved in food.”
Their business partner, Pietro Scoleri, grew up in Australia. His parents, who emigrated from Calabria, were involved in the food and vegetable industry. “My parents would do everything like they did back home; make their salami, wine, pasta sauce. My dad would get me out of bed when I was young, so I’d help grind the tomatoes,” he says.
Scoleri used to be a customer at a cafe owned by La Brocca. They struck a friendship and decided to open Heidelburger Bar with Mandolfo, just around the corner from the cafe. They hoped to build on the popularity of burgers in Melbourne but didn’t want to open another regular burger joint. “We wanted to try to put our Italian traditions and culture into them,” says La Brocca. Most of their burgers have an Italian twist, like the “Italiano”, which comes with home-made basil mayo, caciocavallo cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.
The “Calabrese”, a nod to Scoleri’s heritage, packs just the right amount of heat – thanks to 'nduja (a spreadable spicy salami), fresh chilli, Tabasco and caciotta cheese.
“We wanted to try to put our Italian traditions and culture into them.”
The “Bistecca”, a sandwich on sourdough bread, is loaded with steak, salsa verde, rocket, provolone, sweet peperonata and garlic aïoli.
Heidelburger Bar also puts an Italian spin on the halal snack pack, which has been renamed the "Italian Snack Pack" (ISP). Chips are topped with sugo, meatballs, cheese sauce and basil mayo. You can also cover your chips (or onion rings) with cream cheese, pancetta and spring onion.
While the Italian burgers and ISP are exciting, it’s Mandolfo’s more traditional daytime menu that really shines. On it, you’ll find pasta, soups and tiella di Gaeta. “Tiella is from my home town in Gaeta. It has a very thin pizza base. My grandma used to say you can put anything you like in it,” says La Brocca.
Mandolfo makes different tiella every day, stuffing each one with fish, octopus, mussels, vegetables, endives, Italian sausage, ham or cheese. After it's filled and closed, the tiella is baked and cut into pieces, like a pie.
“It’s something from their home town, you can’t find it everywhere in Italy. It’s very local. For a good tiella, you need to have a good amount of oil, enough that you can see it,” says Scoleri.
Like the tiella, the soup changes every day, depending on what produce Mandolfo gets her hands on. The menu features two pasta dishes. There’s baked pasta with Napoli sauce, meatballs, mozzarella, ricotta, boiled eggs and ham, as well as conchiglioni filled with ricotta and spinach, and covered in Napoli sauce and Parmesan.
“It’s something from their home town, you can’t find it everywhere in Italy. It’s very local."
For dessert, ask for the cake of the day, or go for the tiramisu, which also comes in a vegan version.
The burgers are served all day, but the tiella and pasta are only prepared until 3 pm, so get to Heidelburger Bar early if you’re after something traditional.
60 Mount St, Heidelberg, Vic, (03) 7014 7962
Tue – Sun 11 am – 9 pm
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