Great food and even better service is the key to good hospitality, according to West Melbourne restauranteur Michael Cardamone.
Tucked down the west end of Victoria Street, just a few minutes walk from Melbourne’s iconic Queen Victoria Market, you’ll find Amiconi Restaurant.
It’s the go-to spot for locals and visitors alike – those craving fresh calamari, crumbed eggplant and a carefully-crafted, superbly seasoned bowl of pasta.
It’s the spot with blissfully classic signage and where the walls are veiled with the faces of its smiley, loyal patrons.
Originally a barber shop, the Amiconi family opened the traditional Italian eatery in the early 1960s.
After reaching the pinnacle of his career in finance, Michael Cardamone and his family opted to purchase the restaurant in 1982, pursuing their love for food and proudly embracing their Sicilian and Calabrian heritage
Michael has now marked more than 40 years of service at Amiconi. We recognised his efforts in the Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards 2022.
While Melbourne has an abundance of Italian restaurants, there’s one very simple and salient ingredient that differs Amiconi from the others; family – or rather – treating everyone who walks through its doors like family.
‘Creating friendships and treating everyone as if they’re a part of our family is at the heart of everything we do at Amiconi,’ Michael said.
‘One of our chefs has been here for 30 years, another for 22 – in 2007 they even became partners of the business. And our waiters are much the same.’
The restaurant’s history and family-centered service aren’t the only things that have earned the hearts of customers – it’s the quality of service too.
‘Hospitality means something. It’s not just me taking your order and then dropping the food in front of you,’ Michael said.
‘Hospitality is “this restaurant is my home”, and “you’re my guest”.’
‘And how do you treat a guest at home? You feed them, you make them laugh, and when they leave they immediately want to come back.’
‘I prefer to say we’re in the entertainment industry – and food is a huge part of that.’
Perhaps that’s why Amiconi has been running strong for more than 40 years.
What’s more, as soon as you push on that old-school brass door handle, you’re instantly greeted by sparkling wine glasses atop tables set with traditional Italian tableware.
And the most charming part of it all: photographs of customers as art.
‘After all, what better emphasises the history of a place than its customers?’ Michael said.
‘I think if a customer has been here 20 or 30 times, they’re part of the family.
‘If you put a photo on the wall of someone who’s a regular, it builds a lasting connection to the place – and that’s what keeps people coming back.’
‘Some of the recipes on the menu are ones my wife came up with in 1982.’
‘We’re all about doing a few things and doing them right – and this award is proof that we’ve been doing things right for 40 years.’
‘It’s a magical feeling getting to do what you’re passionate about for a living.’
Find Amiconi Restaurant at 359 Victoria Street, West Melbourne.
About the Lord Mayor’s Small Business Awards
Melbourne is full of fantastic small business success stories.
We celebrate the people behind inner-city businesses that have stood the test of time with our Lord Mayor’s Small Business Achievement Awards, previously known as the Lord Mayor’s Commendations.
Among the recipients are legends who have been in business in the city for 10+, 20+ and 40+ years. We also name a Small Business of the Year.
You can learn more about all the amazing businesses we’ve honoured over the years at Small Business Awards.
What matters to you in your local community? A neighbourhood Future Melbourne Committee meeting was held on Tuesday 21 March 2023, with a focus on West Melbourne. Watch on demand.