Darlinghurst’s Stanley Street has forever exuded the aromas of Nonna’s cooking thanks to long-term residents like Bill & Toni’s. The latest member to join the street’s Italian family is Sagra, translating from the Italian word for a local festival where a specific food is celebrated. It’s a fitting name for a brick-fronted terrace equipped with a wrought iron fence and a philosophy that prides itself on seasonality.

“Seasonality is essential to Italian food but there is no cuisine per se in Italy. Each region has a completely different way of doing something,” explains owner and head chef Nigel Ward (previously seen at Sean’s and Lucio’s) who picked up a love for Italian cooking and traditional techniques while travelling in Italy. “We want to use local ingredients that are in season and then not do too much to them. We try to not over-complicate dishes and keep it authentic, like how it’s eaten in Italy.”

The menu here is created weekly with sharing antipasti to start followed by primi plates of handmade pasta like pea and ricotta ravioli with lemon butter and squid ink tagliatelle with mussels. Secondi dishes include John Dory with a refreshing salad of fennel, radish and blood orange or Spanish mackerel with a rustic peperonata. Sausages here are also prepared by hand in-house, served with a subtle fava bean puree and salsa verde.

“All the butchery is done onsite. We make our own bread and recently Limoncello as well. We want to start producing house wine and prepare our own salami, olives and cheeses,” says Ward noting that he also built the dining room’s furniture with a friend.

Classic Italian desserts include honey semifreddo with baked pears, chocolate and amaretto torte and fragrant pannacotta with candied blood orange. What’s next in store for this chef who has taken his love for Italy and its food to new heights? “We’ll be having regional dinners every Tuesday night, with a four course menu ($50 pp) that focuses on the seasons and Italian regions, starting with Umbria, working our way down to Sicily and moving back up,” says Ward.

Sagra
62 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst
(02) 8307 0430

Hours
Mon-Fri 12pm-2:30pm; 6pm-10pm
Sat 6pm-10:30pm

sagrasydney.com.au