If a single dish exemplifies Barbetta’s breakfast offering, it’s the “Carbonara Australiana”. Ostensibly it is scrambled eggs on sourdough toast. But this version comes with liberal grindings of pecorino and black pepper, and slices of crisp bacon. It evokes the classic Roman pasta dish without straying too far from what some people would like to be called our national meal: brunch.
Barbetta is from the three brothers behind Cipri Italian, Carmelo, Anthony and Joe, and their namesake restaurant is next door on Elizabeth Street, just off Paddington’s reinvigorated stretch of Oxford Street.
“We’ve tried to create a vibrant neighbourhood destination that’s casual and welcoming,” co-owner Joe Cipri says. “And authenticity is very important to us. We import ingredients we need to from Italy when the quality just isn’t available in Australia.”
The Il Contadino (“The Farmer”) is Barbetta’s take on a breakfast burger. It has truffle-infused pan-fried mortadella and cavalo nero (kale). In the San Benedetto, golden hollandaise drips from poached eggs on toasted muffins. It’s served with truffled mushrooms, crushed peas and a mild ‘nduja.
Lunch is a more traditional affair. There are classics such as carbonara, eggplant parmigiana, pork and veal meatballs, and calamari fritti. There’s also the Best Ever Lasagna, executed in the traditional Bologna style, which is also one of the several frozen meals available to take home from the small provedore housed inside Barbetta.
Leave room for pastries. Barbetta’s pastry chef, Rocco Speranza, trained in a small pastry shop in Naples and he pursues authenticity by importing ingredients such as flour and nut pastes from the homeland.
The signature bombe (Italian doughnut) is light yet cake-y and the cannoli are crisp. The famously difficult-to-perfect shell-shaped filled pastry, sfogliatelle, (the name means "small, thin leaf layer") are perfectly light.
The design is by Acme & Co. (The Grounds, Fred’s and Archie Rose), and its curved timber lines, sleek counter and shiny fixtures evoke a 1940s Milanese diner. Floor-to-ceiling windows keep the whole operation bathed in natural, Insta-friendly light.
Executive chef Carmelo Cipri and his two brothers still submit each dish to their mamma for approval and the results are an enjoyable intersection of the traditional dishes and flavours of Italy and the contemporary expectations of Australian diners.
With a cooking school alongside the dining room, large selection of takeaway pastries, a hopefully soon-to-arrive liquor licence and plans to add a spuntini bar in the coming months, this is more than worth taking a few steps off Oxford Street for.
2–8 Elizabeth Street, Paddington
(02) 9331 0088
Tue to Thu 9am–6pm