Meet Werribee’s Wolf on Watton, the new eatery with a large legacy
12.12.2019

Meet Werribee’s Wolf on Watton, the new eatery with a large legacy

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Words by Greta Brereton

The all-rounder venue has opened just in time for summer, serving up everything from your morning coffee and eggs, to your Friday night feed.

There’s a new player in the restaurant market aiming to redefine Werribee’s food scene.

Always a breakfast hotspot, the city’s café culture is stronger than ever, and now the fine dining and wine bar scene is about to move up a notch. Meet Wolf on Watton.

The shiny new haunt popped up in Watton Street in September. The first business venture for local brothers James Pearce and Nathan Salvalaggio, Wolf on Watton serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The pair say they found themselves having to travel further afield for fine dining and wanted to provide something closer to home.

“We’re pretty keen on wine bars and fine experiences,” says Nathan.

“But everyone kind of finds themselves going into the city for that,” adds James. “So we thought, ‘Let’s bring it to the west’.”

As well as dreaming of filling a gap in the Wyndham dining scene, the brothers were also spurred on by a special family connection to the area’s hospitality history. The Wolf on Watton site is one that has been in the family for four generations, dating back to the 1940s.

“It all started here with my grandfather, and that was in the mid-1940s,” explains Ori Salvalaggio, Nathan’s father and James’ stepfather. “He bought it and then built a fruit and vegetable shop and a gelati bar.”

“From there, his three daughters – Bianca, Linda and Mary – worked in the shop with him and they ran that until the mid-1970s.”

But the family lineage doesn’t stop there. Bianca Salvalaggio, James and Nathan’s Nonna, was the next to take over the site. She renovated the shop and transformed it into a café called Trovarellis Coffee House – after her maiden name –  which she ran for about a decade.

“Then they sold the business to someone else,” says Ori. “Over time, the business in there went broke and that kind of created an opportunity for us to demolish the building and create a new building.

“Now, the family’s gotten back into it with my two boys. It’s back in the game, basically.”

Wolf on Watton might have a sleek new look, but the family say that customers still remember the old days, particularly their Nonna’s café.

“We get a lot of customers sitting here and reminiscing on when they used to sit here like 40 or 50 years ago,” says Ori.

“One of the plumbers here in the area, he was served by my mother 40 years ago having breakfast at the café, and he was being served by my son just recently. He was reminiscing saying, ‘Unbelievable, I was served by your mum and now I’m served by your son’.”

James’ mother Michelle is also the owner of day spa, Fifth Element, right next door to Wolf on Watton. The brothers are keeping their family legacy alive by reinvigorating the site, but their food isn’t traditional Italian fare like you might expect.

Instead, they’ve gone for modern Australian cuisine, with little nods to their heritage in the form of their grazing plates and selections of charcuterie.

“This grazing area that we’ve got is our point of difference,” Ori explains. “People get the view of the chef cutting up the prosciutto or the capocollo or the bresaola, and that’s just a sight in itself.”

“We make our own salami and so forth, every year we have a ritual of doing that. That’s not what we sell here, but it is where the concepts grew from.”

In addition to their evening selections of cheeses and cold cuts, they also have an impressive mix of small plates, large plates and sides. Their drinks menu is a point of pride, too, offering an extensive list of cocktails, spirits, beers and wine.

Doing a roaring breakfast trade, Wolf on Watton also has a beaming brunch menu. Try the Alpha Wolf – beetroot relish over the top of a herbed potato rosti, fried egg and maple-glazed bacon steak to get your day off to the right start.

Considering their local history, modern menu and chic interior, it’s no wonder they’ve been riding a wave of success since opening.

“So far we’ve had a good response from the Werribee community,” says James. “Getting lots of regulars and people coming down to try it out.”

“There’s families, young adults, and even some of Nonna’s friends.”

With a tick of approval from Nonna and her friends, Wolf on Watton is well worth a visit.

Find Wolf on Watton at 90A Watton Street Werribee. For more info, head to wolfonwatton.com.au.