Vanto Italian

An exploration of texture and tone, Vanto Restaurant embraces saturated colour to reflect the richness of hearty Italian cooking.


Located in Sydney’s iconic Queen Victoria Building, the dining area has a moody and intimate quality, with a gallery wall of sentimental photographs a homage to the owner’s Italian roots.

The client’s brief stipulated an emphasis on ambience, subtle patterning and a slight rough-around-the-edges character. Previously, the restaurant only attracted a daytime crowd as the interior lacked warmth and personality for evening functions. In response, the new refurbishment makes a conscious step away from an overtly slick aesthetic to mirror the presentation of the food; hand cut parpadelle with lashings of ragu, crusty bread rolls and antipasto boards piled high with cured meats, cheeses and figs. The interior captures the Vanto brand – authentic, robust and unpretentious.

A bold commitment to colour envelopes the space, as emerald green is overlayed with a wash of black. This French wash finish is applied to the decorative wall panelling and introduces the first layer of a textured palette. A waiter’s station located near the entry offers necessary storage for plates and cutlery, but also sets the tone for the dining experience to follow. The chef’s ‘wine of the day’ sits beside an arrangement of native Australian florals and fine brass lettering announces the Vanto brand as patrons arrive.

Herringbone floor tiles in a soft, mottled grey span the entire 30sqm dining area and a sleek banquette seat wraps the perimeter walls, allowing flexibility in the furniture arrangement. Classic Thonet chairs and accompanying dark Oak tables are retained, adding to the rich and softly worn palette.

Contemporary fixtures such as spun aluminium wall lamps and clusters of bare globes introduce a welcome visual contrast. As the restaurant transitions to a night time venue, the space takes on a moodier ambience as lights are dimmed. Cosy nooks with textured cushions become a favourite spot for patrons to linger and enjoy a glass of woody red.

CLIENT: Vanto Restaurant
BUILDER: Nicom Interiors

What were the key challenges?

  1. Retaining existing elements (such as furniture) and working them into the new fitout.
  2. Enabling an easy transition from a day to night venue.
  3. Aligning the interior and food offering, as this was lacking.

What were the solutions?

  1. Introduce finishes that have irregular texture and a softly worn aesthetic; existing timber furniture with distressed edges appears cohesive in this environment. We take a strategic step away from slick and polished interior.
  2. Specify dimmable lighting that can be adjusted throughout the day and introduce statement colour that is bold, rich and moody. Comfortable furniture and cosy nooks add to the appeal of the space.
  3. Select finishes and colours that can mirror the food offering and values of the Vanto brand; authentic, robust and unpretentious. The styling of the interior with mismatched photographs, native Australian florals and contemporary lighting creates an interesting visual balance, treading the line between traditional and modern.

What were the key finishes?

FLOORING: porcelain tile laid in herringbone format
WALLS: French wash paint finish applied to decorative panelling
JOINERY: timber veneer, stone & brass detailing

Project details

Project size: 30 m2
Completion date: 2018
Photographer: Michael Wee


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