Lucio Galletto grew up in a family of restaurateurs, his parents opening a small beachside kiosk on the eastern Italian Riviera in the 1940s, which evolved into a 200-seat restaurant, Capannina Ciccio, still run by his cousin Mario. Lucio earned pocket money waiting tables, before following his heart to Australia in 1977 when he married the vivacious Sally. They opened the first Lucio’s in Balmain in 1981, moving it to Paddington a couple of years later, where it remained for 38 years (closing in January 2021).
Neighbouring artists soon cottoned on to Lucio’s seriously good food and hospitality and made it their local. When Lucio framed a scribble Sidney Nolan left behind on one of his dockets, Nolan was so flattered that he presented Lucio with a painting, and so Lucio’s fabulous art collection began and, over the years, the walls of the sunny corner terrace became covered with canvases large and small by Australian artists including John Olsen, Tim Storrier, John Beard, Garry Shead and Luke Sciberras.
Lucio’s Paddington may be closed, but the great food and wine – and warm hospitality – live on with the next generation. Lucio & Sally’s son, Matteo, and his wife Dieuwke now run Lucio’s Marina in Noosa.
Listen to Lucio’s playlist of favourite tunes to cook to.
Try these extra recipes from our Month on the Italian Riviera Inspired by Lucio:
Here’s why Lucio’s Italian Restaurant will always be remembered as one of Sydney’s finest dining experiences.
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I always loved my mother's testaroli con pesto; it's such a traditional dish from my region. I hadn't thought about for years then on a trip back to Liguria we had it and I decided to introduce it to the menu at Lucio's.
As much as I tried to talk my children out of pursuing a life in hospitality, I guess it's in their blood. So when we closed Lucio's Paddington after almost 40 years, my son Matteo and his wife opened Lucio's Marina in Noosa. Some of the artwork that hung in paddington is there, and a couple of the signature dishes like the fresh green tagliolini with crab, but they've also made it very much their own with a raw seafood bar and a great cocktail list.
Have a look for yourself at www.luciosmarina.com
The people! I love being in a room full of people sharing a meal with their family and friends. It's energising to be part of that, and I especially enjoyed preparing and serving dishes tableside like our salt-baked fish and the pesto pounded in a traditional Ligurian marble mortar at the table.
The produce. It needs to be fresh, seasonal and top quality – then it requires very little to be done to it. Keep it simple, cook with love and share your table with family and friends often. And pour a glass of Italian pinot grigio when you do it!