We love nothing more than an Italian inspired long lunch. Earlier this year we hosted an incredible journey through the flavours of Italy at beautiful Osteria Coogee.
Owner and Executive Chef Regan Porteous opened the venue in mid-2019 with his partner Carolina Angelucci an Italian native.
Osteria Coogee’s mission is to extend the Italian sense of family and connection to all their diners. They have created a menu that celebrates the Italian classics with seasonal Australian produce.
Osteria Coogee is no ordinary Italian restaurant and really is something special, we recently caught up with Regan to find out a little more about the man behind the food we have been dreaming about all year.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
My style of cooking is constantly evolving, depending on cuisine, season, location and demographic of diners. I guess my style would be modest and simple, focusing attention to smaller details like cooking or handling techniques and putting flavours at the forefront.
What was your inspiration behind opening Osteria Coogee?
The inspiration for Osteria Coogee comes from the many Italian summers we spend eating on the coastlines of Italy, in Abruzzo or Salina with the Family, and travelling through the different regions enjoying amazing authentic dishes that are put together carefully, with quality ingredients shining through with no need for additional fuss.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned opening your own venue?
Osteria Coogee is the 16th restaurant I’ve opened from scratch and the 7th concept I’ve created personally. I’ve opened restaurants in Europe, Asia, Middle East and Australia, taking learnings from every country, culture and situations.
With all of these previous restaurants, I’ve had the luxury of having very financially well off investors supporting the businesses. Being the sole Director of Osteria Coogee, I’ve been able to introduce systems I’ve created over the years and have identified how to get results without large financial investments. There is such a fine line between profit & loss in a restaurant and COVID-19 was a real challenge that had us backed against the wall early on. I guess the biggest learning I took from this was you need to be able to adapt, and very quickly, the longer you prolong changes the more time and money you’re losing.
What are some of the most important things you think you need to run a successful venue?
Employees- Passionate and reliable team members who you believe in you and vice versa.
Experience- If you don’t have it invest in someone who does.
Systems- Opening and closing procedures, recipes and costings data, daily financial reporting records. Without these in place, you can still open a restaurant, it just won’t last long.
Marketing and Social awareness- Nowadays, it’s like if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it does it make a noise? Restaurants are finding themselves in the same situation especially as there are so many new openings for diners to check out. This is an area that needs attention at Osteria Coogee but at the moment, we’re doing it old school, word of mouth, concentrating on the diner’s experience to gain more guests and hopefully regulars.
Your venue is perfect for events, what do you think makes a good event?
I believe absolutely anywhere can be turned into creating an amazing event, whether it be indoors/outdoors, night or day. I guess the key to a great event, which you guys nail is to understand the event/theme, have a great food and beverage offering and professional staff members to execute a rememberable experience.
How did your business pivot during COVID-19, and what did you learn from this time?
We saw the effects of COIVD very early on in early February with diners cancelling bookings. A couple of our regulars who had made cancellations asked if we would cater for them at their homes, which gave us the idea of putting together an at-home offering. Once restaurants were forced to close March 21st, our online at-home offering was already running. In saying that, being a new restaurant and in such a tucked-away location, with only a few thousand customers, our challenge was volume, we had to update and add to our offering three times to keep our small profile of customers satisfied. Marketing could have been an option, but at a time where most restaurant operators decided to close the doors and sit it out the effects would have quite possibly been misheard with the volume of media noise.
Our simple at-home offering has worked well, gaining followers and brought new guests into the restaurant, we will continue with the small take out menu as long as we are able to deliver both quality experiences both internally and externally. We are also putting together options for higher dining experiences with our staff catering dinners or events at your home or venue of choice.
What’s your favourite thing to EAT
At the moment, I can’t help but be biased, it’s our porchetta, stuffed rolled and roasted for 8 hours at three different temperatures.
What’s your favourite thing to DRINK?
Drink of choice lately has to be a Negroni at lunch
What’s your favourite PLAY (things you do in your spare time)
Funny, you would think during a pandemoniac you’d manage to have spare time, I’ve found myself busier than ever! Any downtime now is spent with my 3-month old daughter who doesn’t sleep much as it cuts into her eating time.
Finally, if I am planning one perfect meal at Coogee Osteria, what am I ordering?
We change our menu seasonally, but from our current menu I would send out:
- Pizza fritta, napolitana straciatella
- Crudo, Kingfish tartare, marscapone, salted melon
- Carpaccio, Cured sirloin, gorgonzola, confit onion
- Gnocchi, porcini, truffle chive
- Porchetta, citrus, herb butter
- Insalata, leaves, lemon, ricotta salata
- Stefanos Tiramisu to finish.
Click on the image below to take a look at the Italian Long Lunch event.
Take a look at Osteria Coogee’s menu here
If you want to join in on the fun, you can buy tickets to our upcoming Secret Foodies events here