For 22-year-old Lucinda Khan, the love of cooking is in her genes. The daughter of restaurateur Opel Khan, who owns Metisse and Pizza Boccone, has teamed up with her father to open a teeny pasta restaurant in Potts Point, and locals have been queueing up to take Khan’s dishes home.
“I’ve been in the kitchen with Dad since I could walk,” says Khan. “I grew up with food being the focus and that was just normal for me.”
At age 14, Khan started working proper shifts at her father’s restaurants. After finishing high school, she started as an apprentice at Metisse, in 2020 rising to the rank of head chef.
Even though Sydney’s second lockdown isn’t the most logical time to open her first restaurant, Khan says she decided to go ahead anyway; the space was available and they were already paying rent for it.
“We decided to go ahead and open something as soon as possible and just do takeaway,” she says. “This way we get an understanding of how the space works, so we’ll be ready for when we aren’t in lockdown anymore.
“The day we opened we had about 20 people come to the door to wish us well – and we are already super busy.”
Acqua e Farina has a tight menu that hinges on a selection of handmade pasta and glossy sauces. “I’m always craving that kind of food,” Khan says. “And I feel like it can be hard to find.”
Proving popular is a pesto linguine tossed in a 45-kilogram parmesan wheel while steaming hot.
There’s also tagliatelle with slow-cooked lamb ragu, and a basil and tomato pomodoro inspired by the simplicity of classic Italian red sauces.
The tagliatelle with wild mushroom ragu and black truffle is a luxe deconstruction of the humble ‘shroom, with four different types of fungi – like catnip for truffle lovers.
Plus, the gluten-free tagliatelle can be paired with any of the sauces. You can also pick up handmade pasta to cook yourself at home.
But there’s one dish that stands out from the rest: a salmon “bolognaise” made with sashimi-grade salmon dropped into a red sauce, which poaches the fish as the pasta is cooking.
“I wanted to do a seafood pasta that didn’t have that strong taste but kind of feels like brunch,” says Khan. “We’ve had so many people come back and tell us it’s incredible. The salmon is super subtle. It’s not fishy – [it’s] just right.”
The interiors of the Macleay Street eatery were designed by the father-daughter duo, and feature earthy tones, brown leather seats, dark marble and gold tables, and cream walls.
“We want the colour to be in the food, not the interiors,” she says. “The food is the most vibrant thing in the restaurant.”
Acqua e Farina
117b Macleay Street, Potts Point
Wed to Sun 12pm–3pm and 5pm–8pm