Proud and passionate about sharing his Italian heritage, Arturo Buonocore has extended a dinner invitation to the rest of Brisbane to enjoy a meal at Tocco Italiano.

For so long Arturo Buonocore has been adding a touch of Italy into every meal he cooks for his friends and family. So much so that it was the inspiration for the name of his restaurants. With a literal translation of ‘Italian touch’, Arturo wanted Tocco Italiano to feel like a slice of his hometown in Brisbane. “When you pass that door,” he said, “you are in Italy.”

Buonocore first opened Tocco Italiano in Chelmer in 2015 dishing up Australian-Italian fusion breakfast and lunch complete with traditional Italian dinner service. At his second location in Teneriffe, opened at the end of 2017, Arturo serves up authentic Italian lunch and dinner that he hopes will transport his guests to the other side of the world. In the beginning, he also wanted to offer an Italian-style breakfast but decided to keep the dishes strictly Australian inspired. “I understood that breakfast is yours. “I needed to learn from you guys.”

Being a fourth generation restaurateur, Arturo has a rich history in the food industry and feels most at home there. With his mother’s side of the family owning a restaurant on the Amalfi Coast since 1935 and his father’s side running coffee shops, patisseries and icecream parlours since 1919, the business of food runs in his blood. He originally dreamt of becoming a doctor, but he fell “too much in love with [his] family business” and so continued down the path to opening Tocco Italiano.

Even though Arturo and his Executive Chef Enzo Ninivaggi are well versed in Italian cooking, they cannot help but put their ‘Italian touch’ on some Australian classics. One of the more daring creations from Chef Enzo, who was awarded a Michelin star, is a fish dish with an accompanying sauce whose key ingredient is Vegemite. “We love to play and have respect [for] Australian food,” Arturo said. “We have a love and passion for the kitchen … we put all our best in every single dish.”

The childhood friends work diligently to ensure as much of their produce is locally sourced as possible. If their ingredients are not locally sourced, they are imported directly from Italy. Buonocore went so far as attempting to persuade produce vendors at the Rocklea markets consistently for six months until they agreed to supply him with friarielli, a particular type of Italian broccoli, so he could use it for a traditional Neapolitan pizza.

For Arturo, Tocco Italiano encourages diversity — a safe space for diners to try something new and push their culinary boundaries. They are seen as not just customers, but guests at his abode. His focus on bringing quality food to the Brisbane community comes from a place of gratitude, passion and love.

“Australia has welcomed me,” said Arturo lovingly. “I want to give something back.”

Readers also enjoyed this story about Executive Chef Gillian Hirst.