It feels like every month we’re announcing the opening of a new Italian restaurant. In just the past year Sydney has welcomed Alberto’s Lounge, CicciaBella, Pasta Wafu, Peppe’s, Bayswater Kitchenette, Alba, Continental CBD and Totti’s.
The latest is Ragazzi.
In the kitchen is Scott Williams, an enthusiastic and accomplished pasta-crafter whose previous chef stints included heading the kitchen at Movida Sydney and Bacco Osteria e Espresso. Joining him as co-owners are Nathanial Hatwell and Matthew Swieboda, otherwise known as the brains behind two of Sydney’s best wine bars, Love, Tilly Devine and Dear Sainte Eloise, and Felix Colman (ex-Movida).
“Dear Sainte Eloise is very French focused, Love Tilly is very Australian,” Hatwell tells Broadsheet. “We wanted to do something different, something Italian, and Scott came to me with a pasta-bar concept. The ideas married.”
The Angel Place spot the group has snapped up near City Recital Hall is tiny, about the size of your local corner store. But, thanks to a long bar that seats 10, it still manages to snugly fit 40 people. It doesn’t matter that there’s not a lot of space, though, because Ragazzi isn’t a formal white-tablecloth venue. It’s more an Italian-style wine bar, where you go for a vino rosso (red wine) after work, or to smash a quick bowl of cavatelli (ovular, ribbed pasta shaped like thin shells) with pipis and house-made pork sausage during your lunch break.
But it’s not pouring only Italian wine. “We’ll still have some of our favourites from the Jura [France] and lots of Aussie locals, most using Italian grape varietals,” says Hatwell.
Colman will be running the floor, offering the 300-bottle-strong wine list and a menu spruiking whatever Williams has decided to make that week. You’ll probably see the cavatelli, a cacio e pepe, and a goat ragu mafaldine (long ribbon-shaped pasta) with ricotta and radicchio on the opening menu, but a week later it may all be different.
Whatever changes, though, it’ll always be based roughly on a menu structure that reads like this: a handful of snacks, six or so pastas, two bigger protein-led dishes, a duo of salads or greens, a dessert, several gelati, and cheese. Excitingly for a CBD restaurant, the pastas will all be under $30. “I just can't bear charging more than $29 for a pasta, unless it's truffle or uni [sea urchin],” says Williams.
He says although the pasta shapes will be old-school, and he won’t do any radically un-Italian shape and sauce combos, it’s not exactly traditional. “If a nonna came in she might be offended,” he says, laughing.
“I’ll be working with farmers, too, so while someone [at another restaurant] might just get a goat shoulder, I'll get the whole goat. We might braise the shoulders for a goat and anchovy ragu, maybe later in the week we'll have Milanese goat cutlets,” he says.
The venue is a bit more polished than Hatwell and Swieboda’s other venues and that, we hear, is mostly to cater to the CBD crowd. The dark and moody room is lined with leather banquettes, and has textured walls and dark bentwood chairs.
“[What] we would consider our kind of wine bar isn't already present in the city,” says Hatwell.
Shop 1, 2–12 Angel Place, Sydney
(02) 8964 3062
Mon to Fri 11am–12am
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on October 17, 2019. Menu items may have changed since publication.