The $2.4 billion highrolling Crown Sydney is one the city’s most talked about upcoming developments (although it’s not always been positive talk). The soon-to-be tallest tower in Sydney is on the banks of Barangaroo, and, when it opens in December this year, will feature VIP gaming facilities, retail, accommodation and a dining precinct with 14 restaurants.

Back in January, superstar British chef Clare Smyth was announced as the first high-profile tenant at Crown. Last month, iconic Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa also threw his hat in the ring – he’ll be opening his first Nobu restaurant in Sydney.

That still leaves 12 restaurants – three which were announced today.

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The first is Italian eatery a’Mare. It’s by Alessandro Pavoni, who’s best known for presiding over beloved sibling restaurants Ormeggio at the Spit (now Ormeggio 2.0) and Chiosco by Ormeggio. At these two waterside diners, Pavoni takes the charms of classic Italian dining and masterfully pairs them with ultra-local produce and imaginative cooking.

When Ormeggio reopened after the Covid-19 lockdown in June, it went completely meat-free, with seafood as the star. This new direction, plus the name (in Italian, a’mare means “at sea” and amare means “to love”), indicates the Crown Sydney diner will likely focus on seafood too (and will undoubtedly feature lofty harbour views).

“I am inspired by the nostalgic romance of dining out,” said Pavoni in a media release. “The dining experience at a’Mare will bring to life an element of theatre and the old-school sense of service that Italy is known for.”

Next is Woodcut by Ross and Sunny Lusted – a spiritual successor to the couple’s award-winning CBD fine diner, Bridge Room, which sadly closed in April last year. Ross Lusted was cooking with a robata grill well before it started to feature in every single Masterchef immunity challenge. He’s garnered acclaim for his no-fuss style, which focuses on finding the ideal way to express an ingredient’s flavour – flames, steam or coals – and building dishes around that method.

“This earthy and sensory cooking method will be at the heart of the Woodcut experience,” said Lusted. “Imagine whole John Dory in a cast-iron pan straight from the wood oven, Queensland mud crab cooked in steam kettles, or the rich and earthy flavours of duck slow-cooked in clay pots.”

That style cooking – paired with Sunny Lusted’s classic hospitality as general manager – won many hearts at Bridge Room, and Woodcut won’t stray too far from the couple’s winning formula. Expect Australian produce – Bruny Island mussels, Fraser Island spanner crabs, Camden Valley Veal – to occupy all of the headline slots on the menu, bolstered by a confident and well-rounded wine list.

Finally, there’s Yoshii’s Omakase at Nobu, an intimate 12-seat “chef’s choice” diner located inside Nobu, near the entrance to the restaurant. Sushi chef Ryuichi Yoshii has worked throughout Australia and Japan for almost 40 years. He most recently presided over the omakase experience at Fujisaki, also in Barangaroo. Guests at Yoshii’s Omakase will get a ringside view of the sushi master as he prepares a unique multi-course menu each evening.

Managing the restaurant talent at Crown Sydney is the new culinary director, Australian chef Sarah Briegel, who’s spent nearly 30 years cooking at some of the world’s biggest luxury resorts. Briegel was most recently executive chef at Shanghai’s five-star Mandarin Oriental resort, and lists Perth’s longstanding (and now-closed) Witch’s Cauldron on her resume, as well as London’s OXO Tower Restaurant and Smiths of Smithfield (under Australian celebrity chef John Torode). She will oversee everything to do with food, including in-room dining, events and functions.

“After spending so many years abroad I was excited by the opportunity to return home,” she said. “Sydney deserves a world-class resort ... and I think Crown Sydney is going to deliver that for the city.”

Crown Sydney has been controversial since it was given the green light by the NSW Government in 2013. Many people opposed the development of Sydney’s second casino, arguing it would increase problem gambling and money laundering.

Critics also objected to the local government’s decision to authorise the transfer of a prime harbourfront site to a private business. Its design was delayed a number of years, with the government insisting on additions such as increasing the size of a public park and giving additional access to a viewing platform, among other amendments.

Crown Sydney is slated to open in December 2020.