At home with… Rino Saladino

Rino Saladino is the head chef at Vela Dining and Bar, located in Cabarita on d’Albora Marina. Vela Dining’s menu is made up of rich, beautiful flavours that have been inspired by the sea and the finest Mediterranean cuisine. Here Rino chats to Ciao about his philosophy and influences behind his cooking…

How did you start out in the food industry?
My grandfather is a chef so I grew up around great food and people with a passion for good produce. My first job was washing dishes at the Festival House in Balmain, Sydney.

How would you describe the food philosophy behind Vela Dining and Bar?
We aim to offer the freshest produce, consistency, great value for money and let the ingredients speak for themselves.

What cuisine influences your style of cooking most?
Definitely Italian. Our menu at Vela has plenty of nice Italian flavours.

What four ingredients are essential in your kitchen?
Onion, garlic, tomato and basil.

If you could invite anyone over for dinner, whom would you invite and why?
Georges Auguste Escoffier, one of the original inventors of ‘Nouvelle Cuisine’ (an approach to food and cooking that is characterised by lighter, more delicate dishes and an increased emphasis on presentation). I would love to pick his brain.

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Bucatini all’aglio

This is a recipe that was passed down from my grandfather to my father and then onto me.


500grms Bucatini pasta
2-3 tblsp salt, to taste
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bunch of basil, picked and washed
2x 420g tins of Italian peeled tomatoes
100ml extra virgin olive oil
100g block of Pecorino Pepato to freshly grate over the pasta
White pepper to taste
2 tblsp of roasted pine nuts
You will also need a mortar and pestle


1. Place the garlic and salt in the mortar and pestle and crush till you get a smooth paste.

2. Gradually add the basil leaves and crush, then add the pine nuts too until you have a smooth paste.

3. Next add the peeled tomatoes and gently crush. Top with extra virgin olive oil, and add pepper to taste.

4. Cook your pasta for approximately 6 minutes, so it is under cooked. At this point, remove a large ladle (approximately 350ml) of the pasta water and add to sauce in the mortar and pestle. Then strain the pasta immediately.

5. Return the pasta to the cooking pot and add the sauce, and continue to cook the pasta with the sauce until the pasta is al dente. This allows the pasta to absorb the sauce.

6. Once ready, serve with grated Pecorino Pepato.

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