Adelaide designer Ryan Genesin has created a modernist Italian restaurant with a serious nod to the piazzas and laneways of old Napoli. By Kerryn Ramsey
When restaurateur Anthony Crea wanted to open a modern Italian establishment that would reference his family heritage from Napoli, Italy, he turned to Ryan Genesin. The director of design practice Genesin Studio was a natural fit to create this new eatery in Adelaide’s CBD as he already had contacts with Crea’s furniture designer brothers.
“I knew we would need a large space to accommodate the kitchen and its wood-fired pizza oven,” says Genesin. “Anthony found an old furniture store that was an empty shell just waiting to be re-imagined.”
The first thing Genesin did was rip off the front of the building, replacing it with a blackened steel facade that is monolithic and dramatic. Entry to the restaurant is through a purpose-built brick vaulted tunnel that opens up into an expansive space with high ceilings.
“This project is based on bricks,” says Genesin. “It’s a versatile and textured material that offers a lot of scope. The building’s bricks were cut by hand, making each one a little different.”
Simple bricks offer a cohesive narrative throughout the building yet the variety of ways they are utilised adds excitement. Whether it’s the vaulted bricks of the ceiling, the bricks used for lower detailing around the bar, or the banquette setting made of bricks, the nuances keeps it interesting and lively. “Antica Pizzeria e Cucina was the first interior project to win a national brick award,” says Genesin.
The restaurant is unquestionably modern yet in the inventive brickwork quietly references old Italy without ever being cliched. “The front of the building faces west so we added openable louvres to allow some sun fenestration,” says Genesin. “During the day, there is light and shade. At night, the ‘Flamingo’ wall lights for Platek (from Artemide, artemide.com.au) illuminate the space beautifully.”
The kitchen is open for viewing with a long communal table that allows customers to see the craziness and creativity. The pizza oven from Naples is huge and imported from Italy. “The pasta makers are top shelf—the Ferrari of pasta makers Anthony tells me!” says Genesin.
When it comes to furniture, the ‘Tangerine’ dining chairs and stools are by Resident (from Aura Objects, auraobjects.com). Genesin Studio designed and made the tabletops while the longer tables were designed by Anthony’s brother, Franco Crea (francocrea.com.au).
The narrative of the space continues into the bathrooms. “The vanity units are tinted so dark, it’s almost impossible to look at yourself,” says Genesin. The cubicles, however, are large and contain a clear mirror so customers can check themselves out and make any adjustments necessary.
“Antica Pizzeria e Cucina is a lively, chatty space full of laughter, conversation and happiness,” he adds. “The food is mouthwatering and the space is textural, familiar and welcoming which has customers coming back for more.”