For Sydney’s most prominent pedestrian strip, Martin Place has a surprising lack of places where you can sit down to eat a meal. There’s Cartel Coffee (though it doesn’t have street-side tables), a couple of public benches and some steps where you can consume a takeaway sandwich and, near George Street, Intermezzo restaurant. Now there’s a new player.

Toppi is the latest venture by owner and chef Paola Toppi. It’s a sophisticated Italian diner at the top end of town, dominating the corner spot at the new 60 Martin Place building, opposite the Reserve Bank. It’s got a terrace with bar tables and stools overlooking the street, where you can enjoy a barrel-aged Negroni made with grappa or perhaps Toppi’s trademark tiramisu Martini. There are also plans to add outside dining tables.

Toppi’s name might sound familiar. In 1988 Toppi’s mother, Giovanni, opened the now infamous Machiavelli, a long-lunch destination for Sydney’s power brokers, politicians and business titans. Paola Toppi began her cooking career there, and her mum’s legacy is present in the new space, with Giovanni’s signature featured on Toppi’s branding.

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"We weren’t going to come back to the city, but this spot was too good to pass up,” Toppi tells Broadsheet.

The Steel + Stitch-designed venue (Lobo Plantation, Flamingo Lounge, Chula) is attractive, with dark timbers, burnt orange-coloured velvet chairs and wall-to-ceiling doors that can be folded back when the weather’s warm. It opened last Friday and it’s already bustling with suit-clad business folk.

The venue has three distinct areas: a pasta bar, a cocktail bar and a dining room, all of which offer a different experience. Through an open pass on one side, you can watch chefs prepare pasta from scratch, while on the other side you’ll see carefully curated cocktails being put together.

The wine – a blend of Italian, local and international drops – was selected by bar manager Matteo Belkeziz (The Barber Shop, Palmer & Co, Rockpool Bar & Grill), and it’s on show at the entrance.

The pasta is pared back and simple, allowing the quality of the ingredients to shine through. There’s tagliolini with lemon, butter and blue swimmer crab, and tagliatelle sciue sciue, which means “hurry, hurry”. She takes cherry tomatoes and adds king prawns and chilli. Toppi’s “not so traditional” bolognaise is served with chopped up candele (Italian for candle; it’s a pasta that looks exactly what it sounds like) instead of spaghetti.

For something more formal, the dining room menu includes Wagyu eye fillet alla pizzaiola (with spicy tomato sauce, garlic chilli and potato mash) and spatchcock alla cacciatora (with tomato, mushroom, rosemary and garlic sauce).

“Most of my recipes actually come to me in dreams and they’re always wrong,” Toppi says, laughing. “But the principle is always there, so I just work back until it’s right.”

While Toppi has been crafting the current menu for more than a year, it will constantly evolve so she can keep things fresh. Thankfully, though, the 1am liquor licence means you’ve got more hours in the day to check it out.

Toppi Martin Place
60 Martin Place, Sydney

Hours:

Mon to Fri 12pm–late
toppi.com.au