As you arrive at Johnny Vince & Sam’s on Melbourne’s Lygon Street, a wave of excitement washes over you, transporting you instantly to the charming streets of Italy. At the entrance, the white balustrade adorned with two majestic lions captures your attention and you can’t help but laugh as you know that the Sooshi Mango boys have their names written all over this set-up. Curious and eager to explore what lies beyond. The air is filled with tantalizing Italian aromas of arancini and aromatic herbs, making your taste buds tingle with anticipation. The warm, golden glow emanating from the windows beckons you inside, promising a culinary experience that is nothing short of extraordinary.
The walls are adorned with vintage Italian photo frames that capture bowls of fruit and of course, the last supper, and the furniture is typical of your Nonna’s house, with 80’s wallpaper, statues, and crochet tablecloths. The moment you step inside Johnny, Vince & Sam’s Ristorante, you are transported back in time to a nostalgic era of Italian culture.
The grand opening of Johnny, Vince & Sam’s Ristorante was a night to remember. The event was presented by Sooshi Mango, a popular Australian comedy trio known for their hilarious skits and parodies. Their presence added an extra layer of excitement and entertainment to the already vibrant atmosphere, with Italian designer Dom Bagnato also making a guest appearance and singing a tune to the star-studded guests.
The masterminds behind this culinary venture are none other than Johnny Di Francesco, the renowned chef behind 400 Gradi, Dani Zeini, the founder of Royal Stacks, Steven Ballerini, a prominent figure in the Cora Group and Joe, Carlo, and Andrew from Sooshi Mango. With their combined expertise and passion for Italian cuisine, it was no surprise that the opening night was a resounding success with many laughs throughout the night at the cleverly curated décor.
Guests were treated to a delectable array of traditional Italian dishes, each prepared with the utmost care and attention to detail. But it wasn’t just the food that stole the show. The ambience of the restaurant itself was a spectacle to behold. The quirky and nostalgic decor created a sense of warmth and familiarity, reminiscent of visiting an Italian Nonna’s house.
Throughout the evening, Sooshi Mango entertained the guests with their trademark humour and infectious energy. Their comedic skits and interactions with the crowd created a lively and jovial atmosphere, turning the opening night into an unforgettable event. Laughter filled the air as guests indulged in great food and wine throughout the night.
As the night ended, it was evident that Johnny, Vince & Sam’s Ristorante had made its mark on the Melbourne dining scene. The combination of authentic Italian cuisine, a nostalgic ambience, and the presence of Sooshi Mango made for a truly memorable experience. It’s safe to say that this new addition to Lygon Street will become a favourite among locals and tourists alike.
By Melinda Sullivan
Photography Sam Tabone