Capriccio is an Italian word open to a long list of interpretations. It can mean “to indulge one’s whim”, while others claim it’s “a quirk of fate”. Whimsical and fantastical are the two meanings that Matteo Galletto and business partner Michele Rispoli have chosen to go with for their new osteria and bar. A trip to Italy inspired Galletto and Rispoli to open an Italian restaurant. “Approachable, simple Italian food; no fusion,” says Galletto.

Both owners are third-generation restaurateurs. Galletto is the son of Lucio Galletto of Lucio’s Italian Restaurant in Paddington, where he learned Italian hospitality and attention to detail. They commissioned the skills of ex-A Tavola chef Bryan Gerlini to head up their kitchen.

There’s an open feel with a glass entrance and communal tables leading out to the Tuscan-style courtyard. Shelves above the bar are home to bottles of San Pellegrino and vibrant crockery imported from Vietri sul Mare, the home of ceramics on the Amalfi Coast. The bright, patterned plates and carafes add life to the mostly neutral kitchen.

The team source locally as well – the hefty eucalyptus-wood tables are held up by intricate metalwork courtesy of Botany-based Francesco Petrolo. Upstairs, artist Luke Sciberras has marked the dining room walls with a mural of tentacles, and the pair has commissioned Jasper Knight to create an ode to the iconic Vespa on another wall. “The idea was to create a venue that would exist in Italy today, not one based on a bygone view of what Italian food and service should be,” says Galetto.

As for the food, you can’t go past the wood-fire oven, sitting front and centre. From its fiery mouth you can order spelt panini stuffed with porchetta, fennel and radicchio, or mushroom and truffled mozzarella. Most of the bar food (stuzzichini), focaccias and vegetables go through the wood oven as well, and are then mixed through the seasonal menu. Cotechino sliders on lentil buns, and passatelli with mussels, are just some of the modern alternatives. Classic pasta dishes, such as cacao e pepe (cheese and pepper) and spaghetti aglio e olio (garlic and oil), are sticking around too.

On top of the hand-picked and lesser-known Italian wine list, Capriccio offers bianco or rosso on tap from the robust wine barrels on the bar counter, with plenty of Limoncella to go round as well.

Capriccio Osteria & Bar
159 Norton Street, Leichhardt
(02) 9572 7607

Tue to Sun 12pm–3pm
Thu to Sat 5pm–11pm