Harry Malhi spied an opportunity and has taken a chance. The owner of In Forno on Hamilton's Beaumont Street is opening a second Italian restaurant of the same name at The Corner in Charlestown Square.
He says he was inspired to do so by "the loyal customers who currently travel from Charlestown to Hamilton to savour our cuisine".
"Beyond this, the expansive demographic of Charlestown and its adjacent suburbs presents a remarkable opportunity for growth," Malhi said.
"The corner location, which I find particularly inviting and open, aligns perfectly with the warm and welcoming atmosphere we've cultivated at our Hamilton restaurant. This expansion is a thoughtful step towards catering to a wider audience while maintaining the essence that defines our brand."
Read more: A slice of Italy on a plate in Hamilton
The menu at In Forno Charlestown will stay true to that of its Hamilton stablemate: pizza, pasta, desserts and cocktails. "Haris and Vik" will be in charge of the Charlestown kitchen, Malhi says, while he continues to experiment with his beloved pizza dough at Hamilton.
"A lot of my pizza eaters thinks it's the best pizza dough but I still always keep experimenting new ways of mixing dough with different flours, different hydration and fermentation periods," he explained.
"For example, I am experimenting with a focaccia pizza style which is lighter, fluffy in texture and square in shape. We will launch that at both venues very soon.
"The core of every dish lies in its authentic foundation. While I honour the traditional methods, I also enjoy experimenting with elements to create a unique culinary experience. I use the authentic dough-making technique from Naples, but I've adopted the thin crust style of Rome and a slightly lower cooking temperature.
"This fusion of traditions allows me to craft a distinct and memorable taste that pays homage to the origins while embracing creative evolution."
Songbirds and Semillon in the Valley
Spring is on its way and what better way to celebrate than outdoors in the Hunter Valley with wine and live music?
The team at Bimbadgen are hosting Songbirds and Semillon at Emma's Cottage in Lovedale on Sunday, September 10, 11am to 4pm. Local singers Max Jackson, Anna Weatherup, Piper Butcher, Amy Vee and Chloe Gill are on the line-up as well as boutique wines from Alter Wines (created by Bimbadgen winemaker Richard Done) and a selection of beers and spirits.
Bring your own picnic or pre-order an Emma's Cottage Hamper for two people when you book your tickets. Each hamper contains a bottle of Alter sparkling blanc, baguette and crackers, aged cheddar, spinach, olive and feta frittata, roast pumpkin and quinoa salad, lemon meringue tart and macarons.
Read more: Max Jackson is on top of the world
Tickets are $49 adults, $19 for children aged 13 to 17, and free for children under 12, at eventbrite.com.au.
Return bus transfers are can be booked through Rover Coaches for $25 per person. Pick up is from Cessnock, The Vintage and Huntlee.
Emma's Cottage was bought by Mulpha Group, owners of Bimbadgen winery in Pokolbin, in 2021. In 2022 they launched a new wine brand and cellar door at Emma's Cottage, which is now the home of Bimbadgen's alter ego, Alter Wines.
Short and sweet
The Smelly Cheesecake has left Charlestown Square and Pattison's Patisserie will open "in the coming months", says Charlestown Square centre manager Kate Murphy.
Seafood restaurant and bar Salt, Chilli & Lime has opened at East Maitland. Dine in or take away.
Yak & Yeti Espresso + Home is coming to Orchardtown Road at New Lambton, and will have a cafe open from Monday to Saturday, 7am to 2pm.
Chef Matt Dillow has a new venture: Behind the Scenes Gourmet Hunter Valley Food and Wine Tours.
G Pizza has opened at 109-111 Maitland Road, Mayfield, a sibling to G Pizza at Rutherford Shopping Centre.
The Farmers Wife Distillery is taking over the Customs House courtyard on September 9 for four gin tastings, live music and lunch. Tickets $45 at trybooking.com.
Star Anise at Valentine is re-opening for breakfast and lunch Wednesday to Friday, and for breakfast only on Saturday and Sunday.