In August 2019, contemporary Italian diner Sarti closed its large red doors after more than 13 years of service. Co-owner and restaurateur Joe Mammone (Il Bacaro, Bar Carolina, Tetto di Carolina), together with partners Michael Badr and Marco Tenuta, has now turned the diner into a more fun, easy-going – but still very Italian – eatery.
Marameo has a lot in common with the late Sarti, but it's more laidback across the board. Just look at the name: Marameo comes from the Italians call "thumbing your nose", and it's usually associated with a hand gesture.
Inside, burnt-orange leather benches play off against blond timber flooring, a large marble communal table and white-tiled walls. The all-seasons rooftop courtyard remains, with a brick facade on one side and rows of windows from the neighbouring apartments on the other. There's also a 30-seat private dining room toward the back of the restaurant.
To eat, start with some Italian salumi (mortadella, bresaola, San Daniele prosciutto), cheeses and antipasti, or a savoury cannolo filled with Wagyu tartare, topped with vinegar and caper powder. A dish of diced Moreton Bay bug comes with sweetcorn and salmon roe on a thin carrot crisp. Pasta is all made in-house. The popular Sarti dish of jet-black squid-ink spaghetti with blue swimmer crab, fresh tomato and fish roe has made the leap over, but there’s also cavatelli (small shell pasta) served with pan-fried pork sausage and broccoli puree, as well as fresh tagliatelle with rabbit and hazelnuts.
If you want to go big, grilled proteins include barramundi with zucchini, mint and capers, and a pork chop cotoletta with fresh fennel and cabbage. A hefty 780-gram Cape Grim dry-aged rib eye is $85, but all the pastas are under $30, and daily happy hour specials have been introduced, such as $2 oysters and a $15 cacio e pepe spaghetti at lunchtime. For something sweet, order the bigné (doughnuts-like Italian cream puffs) stuffed with white-chocolate mousse.
Badr and sommelier Tom Maiden have created a dedicated cocktail and spritz section for cheeky afternoon aperitivos. Forgo the typical Aperol version – try limoncello and elderflower, or tequila and grapefruit. Australian and Italian wines feature heavily, but there are now popular red and white varieties from France and Slovenia, including chenin blanc, ribolla gialla, gamay and cabernet blends.