Franco Franco

Restaurants Surry Hills
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It's all about having a relaxed attitude at this Crown Street trattoria

You very rarely see cacio e pepe on menus in Sydney. In fact, the only other place that comes to mind for the gutsy and super-simple Roman pasta dish is Buffalo Dining Club. Here at Franco Franco – Crown Street’s answer to the Italian trattoria, they’re serving theirs with al dente bucatini, and lots of salty cheese and pepper – it’s worth visiting just for this.

Grab a seat on the black-and-white tiled balcony, furnished with dark bentwood chairs and low lighting. You’ll want to get comfy – it’s a huge menu spanning three pages, and they’re pretty relaxed about bringing drinks. Maybe you’ll start with that bucatini, or maybe it’ll be fresh pasta. We order spaghetti a la chittara, which sees soft and silky noodles enriched with anchovy. It’s a shame they don’t take the time to cook out the garlic, which gives the dish a hot rawness that’s not altogether welcome.

They have a wood-fire oven on deck for the pizza, too. If you order the Margherita DOC style you’ll get actual buffalo mozzarella rather than regular fior di latte, which is a little rubbery on the n'duja special. It’s a shame, given how infrequently you see a pizza covered in that spicy Calabrian pork paste we love so much. That's two for two on the 'dishes we want to see more of in Sydney' scale.

The biggest issue here is not so much the food, but the time spent waiting for it. Pasta and pizza with a (very nice) tiramisu for dessert takes over two and-a-half hours from go to whoa. As friendly as our waiters are – and they are an exceptionally nice group of Italian fellas – they need to pick up the pace: a little less time leaning on the bar and lip syncing to Robbie Williams, more time bringing water, wine, food and – dear god – the bill.

Venue name: Franco Franco
Address: 628 Crown St
Surry Hills
Opening hours: Mon-Wed 6-10pm; Thu noon-3pm, 6-10pm; Fri, Sat noon-3pm, 6-10.30pm; Sun noon-3pm, 6-9pm
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