One of the defining features of Sydney’s dining scene is its international outlook: the cuisines of France, China, Italy and Japan are just some that have helped influence and drive the city’s eating habits over the last 50-odd years. Sydney’s restaurants have also plucked from the cuisines of the US – often brought to the states by migrants, and much of it built up over time by the country’s African-American community. Think red-sauce pasta joints, Southern-style barbeque and, of course, hot dogs and hamburgers.
Recently, Sydney’s restaurateurs have been looking to New York for inspiration, from its Jewish delis to its grand steakhouses. Below, four new eateries for a slice of the Big Apple in Sydney.
Clam Bar, CBD
From the steak frites and parfait of France at Bistrot 916 to Italian veal alla parmigiana and fritto misto at Pellegrino 2000, operators Dan Pepperell, Andy Tyson and Mikey Clift certainly don’t limit themselves to any one cuisine or country. The trio’s latest is Clam Bar, an ode to the grand steakhouses of NYC – from the top-quality hunks of beef at Peter Luger, to the fit-out at Keens Steakhouse. Like at the trio’s other restaurants, dishes may read international, but boast the esoteric twists that have become Pepperell’s signature. Classic New England dish clams casino is made here with scallops and a heap of pangrattato, while macaroni gets a glow-up with a kimchi and cheese sauce. Naturally, there’s a selection of steaks with classic condiments like mustard and horseradish, or you could also opt for the wasabi. And it wouldn’t be a classic steakhouse without a damn good burger: the patty, cooked on the Josper, is layered with American cheese, raclette and thick-cut bacon, and stabbed through its centre with a large steak knife.
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Brooklyn Bridge Deli, CBD
Eight years ago Darren Heath – who spent a decade working in New York delis – opened the first Brooklyn Bridge Deli near Wynyard in the CBD. Heath wanted to recreate the boisterous atmosphere and outstanding hand-held meals that defined those delis; that dedication has continued into three more venues in the years since, the latest at World Square. Like at Brooklyn Bridge Deli’s other outlets, the focus here is simple sandwiches made with spectacular produce: pastrami is smoked for eight hours, wrapped in foil and brined before being slow-cooked and sliced. Sauerkraut batches at different stages of fermentation are constantly on the go (the shops go through up to 10 kilograms a week). Each day, staff grill chicken and lamb, pull pork and slice the massive loaves of bread to get ready for the lunchtime madness, when classic sandwiches like Reubens and Philly cheesesteaks fly out from behind the counter. Even the dockets are handwritten, old-school NY style, and the fit-out resembles a Brooklyn subway station.
Brooklyn Boy Bagels, Surry Hills
For a decade Brooklyn native Michael Shafran has been hand-rolling and boiling bagels the traditional way, to bring a slice of his home city’s bagel culture to Sydneysiders. Brooklyn Boy Bagels is a mainstay at markets across the city, and already has a permanent home in Marrickville. In May Shafran opened a cafe in Surry Hills, spotlighting collabs with other local eateries (the latest creation – a birria-style bagel – is in cahoots with Chico’s Mexican Bar and Grill in Kirribilli), as well as classics like the fried chicken bagel, and the Hoboken, inspired by Fiore’s, a legendary sandwich shop in New Jersey. Brooklyn Boys’ version comes with hot soppressata, fior di latte, ’nduja, and marinated artichoke and capsicum. There are also classics like lox and cream cheese, plus bagels (including plain, “everything”, and sesame) to take home. Not so New York? The flat whites and espressos made with Barrel One beans.
No, you’re not in the back streets of Brooklyn – you’re next to Penshurst train station, in Sydney’s south. In a retro red-brick hole in the wall, a team of ex-Frankie’s and Via Napoli chefs has opened Bsp’eria, a pizzeria with a small menu and big flavours. Though the concept is Brooklyn-inspired, the blistered-crust pizza bases lean more Neapolitan. The creative toppings, though, sing NYC. The Uncle Charlie has already established itself as a favourite: a white base covered in spicy ’nduja, mozzarella, ricotta and honey. Also popular are the Fun Guy, topped with three kinds of mushrooms, truffle cream and pecorino, and the Pepperoni, drizzled with hot maple syrup.