Dan Pepperell, Mikey Clift and Andy Tyson’s tidy clutch of diners is all gold. There’s the Parisian darling Bistro 916 in Potts Point, with its French bistro classics and winning happy hour; Roman trattoria Pellegrino 2000, the Surry Hills spot for silky prawn ravioli and piles of banana cream; and NYC-style steakhouse Clam Bar in the CBD – where number four, Neptune’s Grotto, is soon to burrow under.

“It’s an Italian restaurant which, comparatively to [Roman trattoria-style] Pellegrino, is a little more northern Italian,” Tyson tells Broadsheet. “It’ll be hand-made pastas and a lot more butter.”

Butter replaces olive oil in much of the cooking in the upper parts of Italy, where cooler climes hinder the growth of olives. Classic northern dishes include osso buco and risotto alla Milanese – plus regional specialties like Bologna’s tortellini in brodo.

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The basement spot was formerly Tokonoma, the intimate Japanese restaurant (from the team behind nearby Toko) that closed in late 2017. Clam Bar’s heavy silver doors swing on the corner of Bridge and Young streets, and below – via a door on Loftus Lane – will be the new pasta cave. Clift and Pepperell’s talents will power the food menu, while Tyson captains the drinks list.

Neptune’s Grotto is due to open on the corner of Young and Bridge streets (entry via Loftus Lane) in May 2024.

@neptunes.grotto