Next week, Kensington Street unveils its next big attraction: Lino Sauro and his new restaurant, Olio Kensington Street. The chef, who’s made a name for himself with his effortless Sicilian food in a Singaporean climate, is moving into the Old Rum Store next Saturday (the heritage building that already houses Bistrot Gavroche, Holy Duck and The Private Kitchen). He’ll be bringing the food of his homeland but with a Sydney twist. While Olio’s rustic-modern interior gets its last polish, Suaro and his team gave us a first look at what’s to come on the menu.

Is a Sicilian restaurant truly Sicilian without caponata? The eggplant-based “ratatouille-like” dish is as commonplace in Sicily as the sun and water. “Of course, every single town in Sicily has their own version. The base is always eggplant and then everyone does something different,” he says. Sauro’s version is based on the recipe you’d find in his hometown, Gangi. “Mine is sweet and sour. We cook the vegetables separately and mix them together with a reduced vinegar syrup. Then we finish with pine nuts, raisins and a little bit of tomato paste.”

Risone with red-wine-braised octopus and bone marrow
“This one I created in Singapore, actually,” Sauro says. He first had the idea after a journalist asked if he’d compromise tradition to accommodate local taste. He started thinking about rice and where it could fit on the menu but rice isn’t typically Sicilian. “Typical to my childhood though was risone, a semolina pasta but it's rice-shaped.” His mum made it with a simple chicken broth, but here he’s added a Sicilian element by mixing braised octopus into a rich beef broth, topped with bone marrow.

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Homemade ravioli with king prawns, black truffle and burrata sauce
“This comes from an idea to combine Italian seasonal vegetables, like truffles, with the local [Singaporean] conception of ravioli,” Sauro says. In Singapore, they have prawn-filled wontons and at Olio there’s prawn-stuffed ravioli. On top of the rather pretty pasta packages is a dressing of milky burrata and fresh Italian black truffles.

Zuppa, signature Gattopardo seafood stew
When Sauro was planning Olio, the only certainty in his mind was that he’d serve seafood stew. Gattopardo, his acclaimed Singaporean restaurant, is famous for it. “This one is absolutely the same,” he says. The base itself is quite simple, just garlic, onion, carrot, celery, zucchini, white wine and prawn stock. The crucial elements are the terracotta pot it’s cooked in and the premium Australian seafood cooked into the stew.

Sicilian Summer: hibiscus and watermelon jelly, wild strawberry sorbet, raspberry mousse
“My pastry chef is very creative. I give him the idea that Sicilians in summer can’t live without watermelon and berries.” The response from Alistair Tan, Olio’s pastry chef, was to riff on the colour of the two ingredients. The base is a beetroot sponge, then layered, sprinkled and drizzled over it is wild strawberry sorbet, milk crumbs (dehydrated milk) tossed in raspberry powder, compressed watermelon cubes, a hibiscus and strawberry sauce, fresh lemon thyme and a bit of peppermint oil. Together it’s tart, floral, fruity and as asymmetrical and vibrant as an untouched coral reef. “My personal style of plating is candid and free flowing,” Tan says.

Photographed by Kimberley Low.
Olio opens in Kensington Street’s Old Rum Store on January 28.