When Bel & Brio opened at Barangaroo nearly three years ago, it was a place you could shop for produce, bottles of wine and upmarket groceries, and buy takeaway food, as well as have a casual bite and drink. Now, after a mini reno it’s also home to a new Italian restaurant, Corso Brio.
“We realised [the venue] was missing personality,” says executive chef Davide Incardona, “and we wanted to bring a fine-dining restaurant element to showcase Italian food with modern techniques.”
To make room for the new restaurant the space the marketplace devoted to shelving has been reduced and in its place are elegant walnut-panelled walls making intimate booths, which are under romantic dim lighting.
Incardona’s menu reflects the more formal dining space, and he draws on his Italian heritage but weaves in elements of Australia. The spaghetti with Queensland spanner crab is a perfect example. “It’s a dish from southern Italy, which is where my mum was from, but it features herb charcoal breadcrumbs, which is a very Australian way to have it,” says Incardona.
For something less starchy there’s a sesame seed-crusted seared tuna served with shaved fennel and marinated artichokes to start, or for main, a slow-roasted lamb shoulder with sweet-potato puree and a demi-glace sauce.
A majority of the produce used in the kitchen comes from the restaurant’s farm on the Central Coast. “Our intent is to be organic and as sustainable as we can and let our customers know that what we’re cooking is authentic,” Incardona says.
At dinner you can order an eight-course degustation for $99 that starts with house-made bread served with 12-year aged balsamic and extra virgin olive oil, and at the moment includes slow-cooked Wagyu beef cheek ragu with tagliatelle, pavlova with wild berries, and petit fours and coffee.
Corso Brio’s menu is matched by the extensive vino list designed by influential wine merchant Jon Osbeiston (he was behind Ultimo Wine Centre, set up the Sydney arm of the Prince Wine Store and recently worked with Golden Century to open Wine Bank). And we mean big: it has more than 800 wines, mostly Italian varietals.