It’s been a big couple of months for Assembly Bar in Sydney’s CBD. Resident bartender Igor Pachi won a multitude of cocktail and bartending awards for his cocktail, El Pasaporte (with Bacardi rum, fresh passionfruit and lime). And over the past week, Assembly has opened an Italian restaurant, located a few paces from the bar, on the bottom level of George Street’s food and retail hub, Regent Place.
At Assembly Restaurant chefs Nick Pulcher (of Bondi’s Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta) and Antonio Buonomo produce traditional Italian pizza and pasta using produce from around Australia, including lamb from Junee, barramundi from the Northern Territory and trout from Tasmania. Buonomo is a fourth-generation, Naples-born pizza chef with 16 years’ experience operating wood-fired ovens in Italy. Pulcher describes his colleague: “The pizza menu is Antonio’s domain – he knows the oven inside-out. He’s perfected his bases so that each comes out exactly the same every time.”
Noteworthy is the Margherita, the classic Neapolitan favourite. For more punchy flavours, try the piquant Diavola, a meaty option that brings out the saltiness of the base through a spicy tomato sauce. The Quattro Formaggio (four cheeses) is done especially well, a combination of mozzarellas, gorgonzola and smoked provola. If you’re sitting in Assembly Bar and don’t want to give up your table, order at the bar and pizza can be brought from the restaurant.
All pasta is handmade; the tagliolini al nero di seppia (squid ink pasta) with sautéed spanner crab, king prawn and truss tomatoes is the must-try pasta dish here.
At the moment the restaurant bar is BYO only, but in early February Assembly expects its liquor licence to come into effect. Then, a selection of Italian wines will be available featuring the primitivo grape, traditionally grown in the “heel” of Italy.
The restaurant’s decor was decided in-house. Soft lighting accentuates the interior’s dark-brown fittings – the eatery is furnished with custom-designed, recycled Tasmanian timber tabletops and chairs. Piles of firewood are an added visual touch: There are heavy, white, Italian-marble tabletops. Around the restaurant bar, there are intricate, hand-painted tiles from Spain. “The tiling is something a little unusual,” says operations manager, Jessica Morrison, “but it ties everything together visually.”