When the coronavirus suspended dining-in in March last year, Sydney’s restaurateurs had to think fast. Among them was Flavio Carnevale, owner-chef of popular Roman-inspired Rushcutters Bay restaurant Marta. He spent many years working for a baker in Rome before becoming a chef and moving to Sydney. Within days he’d set up a weekend bakery, offering his regular menu to take away. The bakery has become permanent, the ovens pumping out Italian pastries, cakes, breads, focaccias and pizzettas every weekend. During lockdown it’s still open every weekend, and the hours have expanded from Tuesday to Friday as well.

Carnevale and his team cook everything on-site in two ovens, so hot goodies are hitting the shelves all morning.

“I spend all morning running – literally running – in a circle, from the kitchen to the counter and back to the kitchen,” Carnevale told Broadsheet last year.

Usually it’s the sfogliatelle – the flaky yet crunchy shell-shaped Roman pastries with gooey fillings (either sweet or savoury) – that sell out first. “One day we made a baker’s mistake: we made too many sflogliatelle,” Carnevale says. “So, we thought we’d try a new filling of prosciutto and house-made ricotta – and it’s so popular. It disappears as soon as we put it on the shelf.”

There are five kinds of breads, including a Lariano-style sourdough (from the region of Lazio, which includes Rome) and an organic semolina-and-potato loaf; pizzettas (there’s a carbonara version topped with egg, pecorino and guanciale, a type of cured pork); focaccias (including a gluten-free number with olives and tomatoes); and stuffed panini. “We slice the panini when it comes out of the oven, fill it with cheese, which starts melting, and serve it straight away. Can you imagine biting into that?” asks Carnevale. (Yes.)

There are also doughnuts, maritozzi (Italian cream buns) and cannoli.

Should you arrive too late for the baked goods, don’t worry – there’s a gelato cart peddling a half-a-dozen or so flavours, all made in-house. “One of my ex-waiters, Diego, is also an ice-cream-maker from Rome,” says Carnevale. “When Covid-19 happened and we were thinking about what to do, he asked, ‘Could I make ice-cream?’ I said, ‘Yes, go for it’.”

Flavours include chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio (made with Italian nuts), and a vegan chocolate sorbet made with coconut water. There’s also tartufo, a decadent ice-cream dessert in which two flavours are shaped into a smooth dome and encased in chocolate lava.

Marta’s is also offering takeaway and delivery Tuesday to Sunday – there are gnocchi fritti, veal meatballs, parmigiana and big trays of lasagne.

Marta is at 30 McLachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay. The bakery is open from 7.30am–3pm, Tue to Sun; dinner pick up and delivery is available from 5pm–9pm Tue to Sun.

marta.com.au

Sydney is currently in lockdown. Masks are mandated in public indoor spaces. Public gatherings are banned and minimal social contact is recommended. If you have concerns about visiting businesses or public spaces, or questions about self-isolation or coronavirus testing, check out the latest updates from NSW Government.