The best Italian restaurants in Sydney
This Potts Point restaurant boasts a full house rain, hail or shine, excellent service and a super-interesting wine list. Risotto all’Ametriciana sees pearly, round little grains of rice cooked al dente with a chilli, fresh marjoram, fine shavings of Parmesan and thin stubs of pancetta, spread out in a thin layer over a shallow dish. They serve it, you eat it everybody’s happy. (Try it with a glass of nero d‘avola from star Sicilian natural wine makers Occhipinti, or a weird-arse organic spelt beer).
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.
You probably just popped your head in for a cheeky glass of vino on your way home. But, once the aroma of shellfish, garlic, and chilli in the tangled thicket of spaghettini hits you, you may as well relinquish your evening plans – and your budget for that matter. The only way out of a night of incredible wines and Italianish food at 10 William Street is through it.
Outside on the street parts of Pyrmont feel like a bit of a No Man’s Land for a fancy dinner out. But that was until LuMi Bar and Dining came along, the restaurant from ex-head chef of Ormeggio at the Spit, Federico Zanellato. It’s situated on the wharf opposite the casino, in the old Ripples site. Because of its positioning and extensive glass walls, it feels as if you’re almost floating on the harbour, surrounded as you are by water.
There’s only one place you need to be right now, and that’s face-first in a focaccia con porchetta. The outrageous sandwich is a hot, fatty, rich and juicy pile of chopped-up roast pork straight from the rotisserie, laid with crisp cos lettuce leaves and grilled eggplant, all smooshed between pieces of pizza bread in a happy delicious mess. And that’s what happens when you put Popolo’s Orazio D’Elia in the kitchen and catch Maurice Terzini at full power.
Head to this Paddo white table cloth mainstay and order a glass of fresh, crisp Friulano pinot grigio to go with thin green strands of pasta interlaced with blue swimmer crab, bound with tomato. Roast duck with pickled cherries, chicory and poached fennel brings out the musk and stone fruit in a glass of Chianti. It's a big, exxy night out here, but well worth it for the art alone – let alone that crab pasta.
You don’t come to Sagra to show off. It’s not about pomp or prestige, any more than fiddly garnishes or fancy plating. But taking someone there will impress them, because this is one of Sydney’s most beloved modern Italians. It’s the simplicity of things that is Sagra’s drawcard. The space reflects this – it feels like you’re stepping into someone’s home as you walk into the little terrace building.
For vegetarians, scanning an Italian menu can feel like a game of chance. Spot the right words (stracciatella! brown butter!) and you’re in for a good time, see a bland risotto and the night could be ruined. But at Kindred, Matt Pollock’s homey 40 seater in Darlington, plant-based options dominate the menu, so the odds are ever in your favour. In the 18 months since the neighbourhood Italian opened, the former A Tavola chef has shifted towards a bigger line-up of vego dishes that aren’t just cheaper, but more popular.
Like an oasis in the desert, a charming Italian trattoria is the last thing you expect to find in the quiet backstreets of residential Alexandria. Seek out Pino’s Vino e Cucina, however, and you will discover that the combination of dark timber, warm candlelight, soft leather banquettes, excellent wine and one of Sydney’s most tender steaks results in the only place you want to eat at for the foreseeable future.
When this neighbourhood trattoria first swung open its doors early in 2012, they were going through one gigantic parmesan wheel a month for their cacio e pepe – that classic Roman pasta dish of spaghetti tossed with olive oil, pecorino cheese and pepper. “Now,” says heavily tattooed and well quiffed co-owner Marcelo Garrao, “we go through one a week.” It’s a dish that really exemplifies the eating at this tiny little Italian restaurant-bar: simple, delicious and pretty much invented to go with booze.