This classy Double Bay Italian is like the perfect dinner date: relaxed, well dressed and generous
You’re rolling the dice when it comes to Tinder dates, so it should come as sweet relief to learn there’s a dashing chap in Double Bay who is guaranteed to wine and dine you and never, ever send unsolicited nudes. Sadly, you can’t take Matteo home to meet your mum, because it’s a breezy Italian restaurant making Adriatic chic your new aspirational dress code. However, you can take your mum here, and you should.
This is a new venture from Orazio D’Elia, who was previously spinning dough at Da Orazio Pizza and Porchetta in Bondi. He joined forces with Eddie Levy (Lobo Plantation, Kittyhawk) and Adams Abrams (The Island, Darlo Country Club) and swapped the beach for the harbour to man the wood-fired oven in an equally understated, neutral-toned establishment in the heart of Blue Ribbon Sydney. But the thing about this 150 seater is that it doesn’t feel stuffy. There’s easy familiarity in the wait staff and it helps that they all look plucked from a European tour catalogue, right down to their blindingly white shirts and linen aprons. You may just want to dress a little nicer in turn, even if it is pizza night. We are in Double Bay and you can tell by looking around the room that these are not the people concerned about the gig economy.
The seats out on the front terrace (oh hello, retractable roof) that looks out onto Bay Street will be prime summer real estate for sipping a Gin & It, a not-quite-a-Negroni that cuts out the bittersweet Campari, leaving gin and Cinzano Rosso to create a shallow, botanical sea spiked with fresh thyme and orange zest. You can find that lost Campari in the Matteo, the top of a five-strong Spritz list that settles the Aperol/Campari argument by combining the two with blood orange juice, rhubarb bitters and prosecco. Need a drink that is the wine equivalent of loyal sidekick? The Cantina Gallura vermentino is very good company, goes with everything and won’t steal all your money at $13 a glass or $62 for the whole easy-drinking bottle.
Of course we ate a Margherita as a control pizza (you need to compare the classics) but the one that’s getting a second date is the Burrata, strongly recommended by our waitperson on the merits of the just-cooked broccoli florets, cavalier anchovy application and a whole, fresh burrata orb in the middle like a pearl, destined to be smashed open and spread across the blistered pizza surface. Talk about the cream of the crop.
When pizza is this good it’s a non-negotiable part of your dining experience, but you should definitely bookend it with juicy, tender, arrosticini lamb skewers, whose savoury fattiness meets an opposing force of freshness in a squeeze of lemon juice and the Italian pavlova for dessert.
This is no towering, wibbling marshmallow slice wearing a Carmen Miranda headdress – here they layer up thin meringue crisps with ricotta, fresh berries, a light sticky caramel and kiwi fruit. It’s like the muffin top of desserts, all the best bits with none of the bulk.
For all our guff about trying to find a date who challenges us, deep down we mostly just want someone who’ll make us a Napoletana-style pizza, keep plenty of wine in the fridge, and set up a big table if the whole family, kids included, come round for dinner. That’s why it’s time to close the app, because Matteo is your perfect match.
29 Bay St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu 4-10.30pm; Fri, Sat noon-midnight; Sun noon-9pm|