Sydney’s Love Affair
By Franz Scheurer
As John Alexander so aptly put it during the Australian Gourmet Traveller Awards Night: “The world is in love with Sydney and Sydney is in love with Italy and all things Italian”, and guess what, he’s right. Slow Food is making real inroads into the Australian psyche, food and wine from Arneis to Zuppa Gallurese via Pinot Grigio, Pizza, Pasta and Gelato are massively popular. A modern woman needs Bruno Magli shoes, Versace perfume and a Bvlgari watch and you just couldn’t imagine a well-dressed executive without an Italian designer suit, could you? A yearly trip to Venice, a holiday house on the Amalfi coast or a cooking sojourn in Tuscany is not considered luxury but achievable dreams for many and of course we’re drinking Moscato di Asti with our Gorgonzola Dolce, wouldn’t you? No? A Ristretto with a glass of Grappa, perhaps?
This brings me to the point of this article: My favourite Italian eateries in Sydney. Here they are, listed in alphabetical order (full reviews are available on the Australian Gourmet Pages website).
Armando Percuocco and his team run this wonderful restaurant in Paddington. Every patron is made to feel as if they’re the only ones that matter. The space is unmistakably Italian without the kitsch. Warm, welcoming and eminently comfortable. You can hear a sigh of relief from each patron as they settle in for the treat to come. Everything is designed to make you feel at ease. Fabulous hospitality, friendly and over-the-top Italian service complement the terrific food and Nick’s exquisite wine list and don’t forget to order that fantastic truffled pasta… This is a big night out.
Buon Ricordo, Paddington 02 9360 6729
How I love a wood-fired oven! This is a bright and modern restaurant that does everything to excess. More than fifty different grappas, a wine list that makes you drool and dribble and ahhhh… the food; it is full of smoky flavours, beautifully presented AND it’s affordable. I particularly like the Italian sausage, cut into small pieces, served with smoky, peeled strips of capsicum, baked in a small cast iron pan in the wood-fired oven, then garnished with lots of baby rocket leaves and black olives. This is my kind of place. Oh, can I offer you a glass of Brachetto to go with that Taleggio? Oh? You prefer Biscotti and Vin Santo?
Grappa Ristorante, Leichhardt 02 9560 6090
This is a real family affair and the passion translates into one of Sydney’s most enjoyable Italian restaurants. The food is superb in its deceiving simplicity. This is a place where you can take a group and be gregarious or enjoy the space on a first date. Different rooms cater to different noise levels. A good wine list and terrific service make dining here thoroughly enjoyable. Try the ‘Stinco di vitello disossato’, deboned veal shank, filled with sausage mince and spinach braised in white wine, it’s gorgeous, but save room for desserts, they’re just as superb!
Il Piave Ristorante Café, Rozelle 02 9810 6204
Pilu at Freshwater
What a view! What a fabulous menu! Brand new premises, a sparkling new kitchen and the Pilu family serving Italian and Sardinian specialities with old-fashioned hospitality, genuine affection for and commitment to their fare, with a small but quirky wine list thrown in. You simply must try the suckling pig, it’s crisp, it’s gelatinous, it’s marvellous, and leave room for the ‘Seadas Ripiena di Ricotta’ a dessert of fried pastry filled with fresh ricotta and served with warm honey. It’s a seductive sweet and crunchy dream
Pilu at Freshwater, Harbord 02 9938 3331
This casual restaurant with tables and chairs spilling out onto the footpath, owned and run by George and Adisa Pompei is the home of Sydney’s best Pizza and Gelato. Mind you, everything else is bloody good, too. Love the succulent prosciutto, the bright aromas and fresh textures of the Insalate Caprese and most of all the unctuous beetroot ravioli. No short cuts here, that’s for sure. Take a stroll up and down the beach then reward yourself at Pompei. Try the Potato and Rosemary Pizza then pig out on gelato!
Pompei, Bondi Beach 02 9365 1233
I reckon you should try them all!