Walk into Danks Street Produce Merchants and the first thing you’ll notice is the enormous stack of San Marzano tomato cans. Elsewhere, there are rows of relish jars, tinned fish and bottles of vinegar. There’s a stack of doughy cinnamon scrolls and a rack of hanging pasta; a counter with fresh-eyed-fish and a deli with roasted spices and dried limes. Upstairs the restaurant uses all this produce, served on marble trolleys.
Produce Merchants is a new food market and restaurant run by the Quattroville family’s Fourth Village (they own a produce market in Mosman). But it’s not all them: the downstairs bazaar has stalls featuring specialty operators from across Sydney. Fourth Village’s Dominic Quattroville likens it to the retail version of the Tramsheds or Barangaroo. “We have so many food precincts now but they're heavily restaurant-orientated,” he says. “You talk about Adelaide Central markets, or the Vic Markets [in Melbourne] … you go in there and you know the person over the counter, they know what you like. Sydney didn’t really have that in one space.”
Fourth Village has worked with food journalist John Newton on filling the space with smaller, up-and-coming operators, not established names. Among the stalls will be sourdough from Tom Eadie’s Berkelo; fresh fish from Coogee’s The One That Got Away; Oregano Bakery; a specialty cheese store from Adelaide’s Smelly Cheese Shop; as well as a paddock-to-counter butchery; a flower market; a pasta stall; a Middle-Eastern grocer; and a cafe. “They're short-term licences so people can use the space for however long they see fit. They may launch in here and outgrow it. It works for us to because it will always be changing, always dynamic.” Quattroville says some vendors, such as the cheese shop, fishmonger and butcher, are likely to stay on long-term.
The best space of all is upstairs. You’ll find a sun-drenched mezzanine refitted with touches of the building’s heritage. “The bones of the old Fratelli site were so great, we've just lifted the standard,” says Quattroville. The 100-seater restaurant, run by Sal Quattroville with Riccardo Interdonato as head chef, will be open for lunch only, serving diners carello-style (imagine yum cha trolleys but stacked with Mediterranean share plates). The rest on the menu is simple, with a couple of pastas such as scallop risotto with zucchini flower, Canadian scallops, mascarpone. Mains include lamb shoulder with artichoke puree or whole trout, both woodfired.
Danks Streets Produce Merchants opens this Thursday.
Danks Street Produce Merchants
7 Danks Street, Waterloo
(02) 8123 1120
Individual stalls may close at different times.