Spacious. High ceilings. Polished concrete floors. Natural light. Paddington.
These aren’t words you’d think to associate with rustic, unpretentious Surry Hills Italian diner Il Baretto. But the classic Sydney restaurant has reinvented itself in its 21st year by moving into the Paddo Inn’s slick dining room. It opened in its new space to diners on October 9.
Il Baretto 2.0 isn’t as cosy or dimly lit as the Surry Hills original, but you’ll still find head chef and co-owner Domenico Santopadre in the kitchen plating up regional-Italian dishes, co-owner Gabriella Fedeli’s son Brendan helping out on the floor and the tables filling with hungry locals enjoying generous bowls of pasta, risotto, beef carpaccio and vanilla panna cotta.
“It’s a bit overwhelming because it’s a much bigger space,” Gabriella Fedeli tells Broadsheet a week after reopening. “But it was lovely to see it full on the first day and go, ‘wow’. We knew the regulars would come around but we didn’t realise we’d get this amazing response.”
Moving the restaurant into a spot double the size – and from Surry Hills to Paddington – wasn’t part of Fedeli’s plan when she closed the original Il Baretto back in March. But the opportunity to take over the Paddo Inn dining room was too good to refuse (Fedeli remembers the pub’s owner, Solotel’s Elliot Solomon, slurping spaghetti at the restaurant when he was a teenager).
The menu, which you’ll still find handwritten on a roll of butcher’s paper hanging on the wall, is familiar, but has had some tweaks, too. Il Baretto’s signature dishes – slow-cooked duck-ragu pappardelle and spaghetti alle vongole – still feature, alongside an expanded selection of antipasti, pasta and gnocchi. Paddo Inn patrons can also order from a bar menu of chicken cotoletta, lasagne and calamari fritte.
“Once everyone’s in the swing of things, we’ll start playing around with specials,” Fedeli says. While it’s no longer BYO, there’s a good selection of aperitifs and digestifs, as well as vino from Australia and Italy (which is now poured into stemmed wine glasses, not tumblers). As at the OG restaurant, Peroni is on tap, too.
Plus, for the first time in Il Baretto’s 21 years, you can make a booking and pay with credit card – “we’ve brought it into the 2020s,” Fedeli says. As an added bonus, it’s now open on Sundays.
The new Il Baretto might look a little flashier, but it’s maintained the feeling of a comfortable, inviting, family-run restaurant.
“It doesn’t feel like something different; it feels like we always kind of belonged here,” Fedeli says. “It’s just as hard the second time around, but it’s been fantastic. It’s been an amazing week.”
338 Oxford Street, Paddington
0415 354 626
Wed to Sun 12pm–3pm, 5.30pm–10pm