There’s not much about Marrickville cafe Two Chaps that feels like a restaurant – except the food. Co-owner Piero Pignatti Morano is keeping the cafe and Sticky Chai headquarters open on Thursday and Friday nights to serve a simple northern-Italian menu. Behind the open roller door of the old brick factory, the usually hardworking espresso machine sits quiet. Bottles of wine are pulled out of paper bags to sit alongside the little posies of herbs that decorate each table.
Morano makes pasta and bread fresh each day and chef Kim Douglas (formerly of Rockpool) creates a new menu each week – “We have a pretty good collaboration going on,” Morano says. He’s been learning since he was a kid. “My father is Italian, I would watch my family, my grandmother cook. There’s a lot of my family’s influence in the food,” he says.
There are three cheeses and three antipasti you can order in various combinations; such as a stuffed and crumbed mushroom paired with squacquerone (a milky, soft Italian table cheese), or tall wedges of fluffy, golden focaccia to mop up sweet, creamy burrata. There is a choice of three pastas for main course; “There’ll be one heavier, filled pasta like ravioli, a medium one and a vegan option,” says Morano. All are made fresh in house. A recent standout is a plate of buffalo ricotta, pumpkin and walnut aillade raviolo with sage burnt butter.
Ingredients repeat themselves throughout the menu – the focaccia is reimagined in the dessert section as a pine-nut cookie, rosemary and olive-oil ice-cream sandwich – a true example of making the best of what’s available. Some of the produce used comes from the garden patch in the primary school up the road, cheese is from Paesanella and other small-batch artisans from Marrickville. Even the flour used (a mix of durum semolina and white organic) is from northern NSW. “It’s isolated from what we do in the day, but with the same principles. At night, it’s a bit more highbrow, with pasta you’d get at other restaurants for double the money,” Morano says. If only highbrow meant only one dish over $20, everywhere.
122 Chapel Street, Marrickville
Mon to Fri 7am–3pm
Dinner on Thurs & Fri 6pm–9.30pm