Fun New Italian Diners and Bars in Sydney

Sydney’s Italian restaurants have long celebrated the great depth and diversity of the cuisine and country that serve us gelato, pizza and espresso. From crowd-pleasing red sauce desserts to restaurants focusing on regional specialties, Sydney’s Italian dining scene has never been more exciting. Recently, there has been a wave of new diners tackling Italian food and desserts in a fresh and fun way. From places that talk about the Negroni to buzzing eateries that revolve around menus from lesser-known regions, here are four new Italian restaurants and bars.

Bar Grazie, Elizabeth Bay
Bar Grazie is a place where you can have a lot of fun. It turns out Martini was opened by a restaurateur who knows his stuff: Barry McDonald, founder of Fratelli Fresh (the chain’s pre-chain days) and spent years supplying Sydney’s top restaurants with fresh produce. In a wood-paneled, softly lit room, Macdonald and his team of vets serve up a menu of Italian classics, fine-tuned by head chef Jarrard Martin (ex-Rockpool Group). melon prosciutto offers a colorful touch to your meal; saltimbocca, made Roman-style, wrapped in chicken prosciutto and sage; and four pasta dishes, including pappardelle alla Bolognese (Wagyu Bolognese) and rigatoni with lamb ragout, are classics still done well.

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Bar Conte, Surry Hills
It’s a surprise to realize that Negroni-loving Sydney didn’t have a bar dedicated to the three-part Italian cocktail until Bar Conte in Surry Hills popped up in September. Sorrento native and owner Raffaele Lombard believes he serves the perfect Negroni, and while he doesn’t pay much attention to what makes his version the best, he hints it has to do with Campari and a rare Italian vermouth infused with gin. Like the classics, Bar Conte pours 20 Negroni and spins on Negroni, including a white Negroni and a barrel-aged Negroni. Even the small plates menu (co-owner and chef Stephen De Vecchi) has a Negroni connection: the salami goes with the Negroni, and the oyster sauce goes with the Negroni. Dish options include buttered shrimp with baked bisque and lamb ragu with pappardelle. Fortunately, there’s a large menu to soak up some of Italy’s rarest dishes.

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Enoteca Ponti, Potts Point
The team behind Bistro Rex knows their way around French cuisine, but with the recent launch of their new wine bar and restaurant in Potts Point, Enoteca Ponti, they’re proving that Italian is well and truly on the phone. In the former Monopoly space, chef Aldo Farroni (ex-Shell House) is marrying traditional favorites with the unconventional. Think lasagna tubers with fermented pepper aioli, pizzetta piled high with ossietra caviar and mascarpone, and pappardelle tossed in wild boar ragout. The Italian drinks list gets the same attention: Negronis and spritzes to start, followed by delicate Venetian whites, and powerful powerhouses like chianti and barolo. As the evening goes by, you can enjoy a drink at the elegantly tiled bar, or settle into a leather banquette surrounded by a wall of wine.

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Fontana, Redfern
For the crew who ran Don Peppino’s (now closed) restaurant Paddington in Fontana, Redfern, the meal is like what you’d have if you stumbled upon a trattoria near a small Italian town. The menu is full of regional specialties and dishes you won’t find anywhere else in Sydney. Ceci e tria, Don Peppino’s signature, textured pea pasta is back. It’s a dish modeled after one chef and co-owner, Daniel Johnston, had in the southern Italian city of Lecce. A creamy brick of house-made ricotta is a must-order, best enjoyed with a slab of garlic-laced focaccia. Although the gelato isn’t a must-order restaurant (especially near Ciccone & Sons), you’re better off ordering a scoop here. When Wide table visited, the crew had pistachio gelato, and my partner said it was “the best gelato” he’d had since his last trip to Italy.

Additional reporting by Karina Arora, Ariela Bard and Pilar Mitchell.


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