Sources say the Italian restaurant at the corner of Mt Alexander Road and Addison Street is frequented by a number of notable gangland figures, who come for its highly-regarded steak, seafood and ambience.
Manager and co-owner Anthony Cavallo said the shooting was unconnected to the restaurant, calling it “random”.
He said no one at the restaurant realised shots had been fired for almost 20 minutes until police arrived.
“We didn’t hear it, it was a complete surprise for us to be honest. I think it’s a random shooting into a car in a side street, that’s all we know, to be honest. The back section of the building got hit,” he said.
“It’s a little bit bizarre, to be honest. It’s a bit strange. It is what it is. I’m sure police will handle it and take care of it,” he said.
Mr Cavallo said he was unaware of the restaurant’s reputation with the underworld. “I don’t ask people what they do, we just serve them food.”
The co-owner of Escagrill is Mr Cavallo’s twin brother Dominic, who is currently facing criminal charges brought by the anti-gangland Purana Taskforce. The unit’s remit is investigating organised crime activity.
Dominic Cavallo’s lawyer, Mark Martoccia of Furstenberg Law, declined to comment on his client’s behalf or discuss the charge.
The restaurant had only reopened earlier this month following the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.
“It’s been very hard, very hard. It’s been a struggle so, you don’t want too many speed humps on the way, you want smooth sailing, it’s been a hard year,” Anthony Cavallo said.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au
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