There’s a renaissance happening at Uccello, Merivale’s poolside restaurant on the roof of The Ivy. The eatery has gone through many changes over the last decade, and the next will be unveiled in a few weeks.

Chef Nigel Ward of Sagra and Fratelli Paradiso is the kitchen’s new maestro, bringing with him years of experience in Italian cooking, partly informed by his travels.

“We spent three months going from Puglia at the bottom all the way up to the Dolomite mountains, working on farms, killing pigs and making salami; shepherding goats around the Tuscan countryside and making goat’s cheese; picking lemons on the Amalfi coast and hand-filleting and curing anchovies,” he tells Broadsheet. “Really deep-diving into that grassroots, regional Italian cooking that you don’t see a lot in restaurants in Florence and Rome.”

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His philosophy at Sagra was to keep things fresh and simple, highlighting ingredients with the respect they deserve. But there’s also a higher pricepoint at Uccello, giving him access to more premium produce.

“When we were on the Amalfi Coast I remember going to a buffalo mozzarella farm and getting mozzarella that was still warm from the brine it was in, then we drove up to the mountains and sat on the edge of the road with this view of this forest looking at the Mediterranean, just eating warm buffalo mozzarella with fresh bread,” he says. “It was one of the most beautiful, simple things I’ve ever eaten, and that’s the sort of thing I try to carry forward in my menu.”

This philosophy shines through in dishes such as buffalo mozzarella (from Burraduc) with violetta artichokes and Cantabrian anchovies; Cape Moreton scarlet prawns topped with finger lime; Ulladulla ruby snapper cartoccio (baked in foil) with mussels, fennel and salsa verde; and ravioli with cherry tomatoes.

The menu will showcase the provenance of the star ingredients, which will all be sourced as locally as possible from small-scale producers.

“I think it’s really important at the moment – given we’ve had bushfires and drought and Covid – to make a really strong nod to Australian producers and farmers, particularly from New South Wales,” Ward says.

The wine list has Italian drops such as catarratto, brunello, barolo and provence rosé, as well as some Aussie bottles. Classic cocktails will be served with an Italian twist, thanks to provincial ingredients and produce.

The Uccello space is being refreshed with small changes to reflect the Amalfi Coast-inspired menu and vibe, particularly in the tableware and decorative touches. Of course it still looks over the rooftop Ivy pool and bar. The restaurant is also set to become a training ground for up-and-coming chefs in Merivale’s growing apprenticeship program.

Uccello will reopen on Level 4 of The Ivy, 320 George Street, Sydney in late October.