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The best Italian casual dining in Sydney

Relaxed vibes meet delicious eats.

Photograph: Anna Kucera

Kick off your shoes and crash tackle a bowl of pasta at some of Sydney's best casual Italian restaurants.

ACME

We wouldn't call chef Mitch Orr’s food straight up Italian. He's been known to say he takes more influence from Chinatown than he does the Cinque Terre. So what the hell do you call a restaurant serving a menu of seven pastas, a baloney sandwich and cucumber spears pickled in gin? Italianese? Chitalian? It probably doesn’t matter. The more important message here is that it’s fun and good.

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Rushcutters Bay

10 William Street

If the recent upheaval in bars and restaurants has taught us anything, it’s that the lines can be, will be and are very often happily blurred. And 10 William, the two-level wine bar and restaurant just off Oxford Street, is no exception.

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Paddington

Sagra

This tiny neighbourhood Italian restaurant is pitched perfectly for local and wandering food fans alike, offering big bang for relatively little buck. The wine list is exciting, the pastas will haunt your dreams and if they have the fregola with chargrilled king it's essential that you order it.

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Darlinghurst
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Berta

You might know this dark little restaurant for its small plates and awesome wine list, but do you know about their weekly sagra nights, where they highlight a different ingredient each week? Well worth checking out.

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Sydney

Buffalo Dining Club

It’s big trade at Buffalo, day in, day out and you can’t book for anything smaller than a table for ten. Such is the love for the place, the wait can be as long as three hours. Get a drink at nearby Eau de Vie while you wait.

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Darlinghurst

Osteria Di Russo & Russo

Enmore Road just kicked it up a notch with this brand new neighbourhood restaurant serving the best Italian-inspired food the neighbourhood has to offer, where the music’s on vinyl and the crowd is loud and local. It’s a good time. 

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Enmore
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Chiosco by Ormeggio

They said it couldn’t be done, but Chiosco proved them all wrong. It’s a casual, delicious Italian restaurant that does BYO by the water. It’ll work for date night, meeting the parents, and overdue catch-ups and it won’t require all your worldly goods to pay for it.

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Mosman

Vini

No matter how many winning new enoteche chef-owner Andrew Cibej opens (see 121 BC and Berta) the demand for seats here never dwindles. The original recipe remains unchanged: a daily menu of imaginative, contemporary Italian fare scrawled on the walls, packing them in for lunch and overflowing on to waitlists in the evening. 

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Surry Hills

Mantecato

Rosso Pomodoro have turned their venue just around the corner into a specialist risotto restaurant. The tiny room only has around 35 seats which book out faster than you can say Bolognese. You’ll want to get in quick with this one.

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Balmain
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Ombretta

The blackboard menu changes pretty regularly at this neighbourhood tratt – on one visit there’s orecchiette with broccoli, sausage, anchovy and (fairly raw and hot) chilli. On another, it’s a wild boar ragu with rags of fettuccine. Yum.

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Glebe

Popolo

Take a seat at the bright red bar and order a Negroni and a few snacks, or book a big table and eat the whole menu. It’s probably one of the most accommodating restaurants you’ll come across in Sydney at the moment.

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Darlinghurst

Cafe Sopra

If Sophia Loren owes everything she has to spaghetti, it might be fair to say everything Barry McDonald has, he owes to Johnny Love Bite tomatoes and individual watermelons. The successful businessman has turned a fruit-and-veg business into a series of successful trattorias, each with an attached fruit and vegetorium. And now Alexandria joins the fray.

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Waterloo
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The Larder

Otto Ristorante's casual offsider, the Larder, serves up casual Italian fare in one of the most picturesque dining spots in the city. The menu will continue to change 'depending on what's in the larder' - but their's is a well-stocked pantry so expect tasty results and pair them with a bottle from your own cellar because they do BYO. 

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Wooloomooloo

Fratelli Paradiso

Yes, it’s incredibly loud inside thanks to the room of happy chatters, and it can get blowy outside depending on what time of the year you’re eating here. And yeah, the lines can get upwards of insane but for good reason: it’s reasonably priced, delicious, and fun. 

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Potts Point

Jamie's Italian

Avoid the "posh chips" with “insanely good truffle oil” and head straight for the Italian nachos - a pile of deep-fried cheesy ravioli with spicy tomato sauce. Cute. Or a plate of big fat Sicilian olives served over ice with sheets of Sardinian crisp-bread. 

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Sydney
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