Allegra Dining has decent prices, a casual vibe and playful dishes that aren’t abstruse – qualities that make Sydney’s recent wave of neighbourhood restaurants so good.

It’s Alex Wong and Jason Tran’s first restaurant. “We want Allegra to be a place where families and friends can come together and feel joy through food and drink,” says Tran. With Italian marble tabletops, timber features (reworked from the previous resident, restaurant Beccafico) and light features by designer Matt Woods it’s formal in appearance but far from stuffy.

The food is best described as modern Italian-Australian. Expect dishes such as house-made squid-ink spaghetti with honey bugs, sea urchin butter and bottarga; and toasted rigatoni with kangaroo tail ragu and nasturtium. “It’s all the typical Italian foods – pastas, grilled meats – but changed up with everything that’s new right now,” says Tran.

Tiramisu and burrata with pine nuts and figs are more traditionally Italian, but there’s sweet balsamic-glazed lamb ribs dotted with puffed amaranth served with a side of sheep’s yoghurt; and cured salmon coated in a tart mix of pomelo, roe and fennel. “We’ll be adding more Australian natives in about a month from now, too,” says Tran.

There’ll soon be a new direction for the drinks list, which right now is dominated by some crisp, considered mocktails such as the Strawberry Breeze with strawberries, berry syrup, lime and mint. When Allegra gets a liquor license, the duo will introduce booze to the mocktails and an Italian- and Australian-heavy wine list chosen by Wine Construct’s Jacqueline Lewis. Get a coffee or tea at the end of your meal – it comes with a sweet surprise.

Allegra Dining
8/18 Danks Street, Waterloo
(02) 9698 1699

Tue to Sat 6pm–10.30pm