It's a Thursday night in Wembley and Monsterella is packed full of families, friends and young couples. Next door, their sister wine bar Mummucc is pumping with a similarly diverse crowd. We're speaking to Tania, who owns and operates both venues with her husband Ryan. "We do kind of pinch ourselves regularly," she says. In a city obsessed with high profile openings and surprise closures, Monsterella is celebrating the approach of its third birthday with the same bustle it has steadily maintained since opening.
Back to Basics
"We wanted to just keep it really simple and fresh. It's not always easy to do simple, you kind of have to nail it."
Monsterella and Mummucc specialise in traditional Italian pizza, pasta and insalata. Their food is transparent, often containing each ingredient on the menu listing. For Tania, the quality and freshness of the ingredients themselves is what sets them apart.
"Little things make the difference." she said, "If the produce isn't good, we don't use it. I get as much of the salad ingredients as I can from the farmer's market each week, and Ryan makes the dough himself every day."
"It's not secrecy, or that he's trying to be a dough master, he just likes doing it and knows what he wants in it. It's all pretty special. The owner is making the dough every day. Putting genuine love into it. My mum makes the pasta every day too."
For three years Monsterella has been a family effort, and for Tania a reflection of the incredible food her family has been making for generations. "I've been around good food for forever." she said. "I remember having friends come over when I was in highschool, they would eat Mum's food and just be blown away. For us it was nothing, you don't realise what you've got until much later. In the restaurant I just wanted to share that."
"It's not until you're older that you realise how special it all is. Our family's produce all ends up in the kitchen. The sauce days, the sausages, it's all to keep the old traditions alive."
Monsterella and Mummucc
At age 2, Tania and Ryan's daughter would call all cheese 'monsterella'. Ryan was involved in another restaurant at the time, and Tania was working in the fashion industry. The ideas of homemade pasta and back to basics cooking was in their minds, but it would take several years and the severing of their current ties to become Monsterella.
"After a while everything sort of fell into place, and then the bar kind of came to us."
Tania mentions that when their landlord mentioned the space which would become Mummucc was available they realised that if they didn't go for it, somebody else would. A small bar had always been on Tania and Ryan's radar, and the opportunity was too good to pass up.
"My mum now makes pasta for two venues every day, I guess she didn't bargain for that." said Tania. The bar follows many of the same cues toward freshness and simplicity as Monsterella, but with more chances to be ambitious in specials and menu changes. A lineup of small bath local and Italian wines further reflect the care towards providence Ryan and Tania have dedicated their venues toward.
"It's a very good time to be Italian. I think it's all kicking back, and what's doing well out there is back to basics European food." said Tania.
Monsterella are open 7 days a week from 4.30 - 9pm. Book through their website.