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Roberta's Italian Disco Diner pops up for RCC 2020

The Forager

RCC managing director Roberto Cardone has teamed up with Adelaide chef Salvatore Pepe to bring the pop-up Italian eatery Roberta’s back to the University of Adelaide cloisters for the festival season – this time rebranded as Roberta’s Italian Disco Diner.

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Cardone and long-time friend Pepe – who co-founded Cibo Ristorante and Cibo Espresso – will seek to replicate the feeling of Italian piazza dining for Roberta’s, which will be open Tuesdays to Sundays from 5pm until late from February 14 until March 15.

“It’s been an absolute dream to be working alongside Salvatore Pepe again,” Cardone says.

“We’re back doing what we do best; serving up authentic Italian food and having fun while doing just that.”

Cardone launched the Roberta’s Italian Takeover pop-up at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe, the first year the RCC was based at the University of Adelaide. While last year it took over the space now occupied by the new Adelaide UniBar, during the RCC’s 2020 season it will operate in the rest of the cloisters area.

It has capacity for up to 150 people, and will include a Salumeria as well as an Enoteca (walk-in wine cellar) selling local and imported Italian varieties of red and white wine and Prosecco.

The menu will include Cardone’s Melanzane Parmigiana (lightly battered eggplant slices layered with tomato sugo, mozzarella, parmigiano and basil) and Paccheri Al Ragù (large paccheri pasta with slow-cooked tomato sugo and beef ragu).

The RCC says that Pepe, who previously operated the Pepe Cucina restaurant at Glenside, will introduce signature dishes such as Fichi (prosciutto-wrapped figs baked with gorganzola sauce) and Taglierini al Granchio (egg pasta tossed with blue swimmer crab, chilli, tomato and a dash of cream).

Roberta’s Italian Disco Diner is inspired by Cardone’s southern Italian heritage.

“The cloisters area is beautiful – it reminded me of walking through the Porticoes in Bologna, so it made sense to set up Roberta’s here, and take advantage of the entire space, giving patrons the opportunity to enjoy a dish or two or three, have a drink and dance,” he says.

When the Roberta’s Italian concept was announced last year it prompted a snippy social media response from a New York pizza restaurant with the same name. However, the RCC says the name change this year has nothing to do with that, but rather reflects the fact that the eatery is no longer taking over the UniBar space and in 2020 will have a strong focus on food, wine and music.

“Think more casual outdoor piazza eatery, as opposed to Italian restaurant, with music playing in the background as you sip a spritz and perhaps even dance into the night.”

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