Cipro Pizza al Taglio
Experienced chefs turning away from fine dining and opening eateries specialising in honest food at an honest price is a defining trend of the Italian new wave. Simple food given an under-the-hood upgrade by exacting expertise in technique and flavours.

Cipro Pizza al Taglio mainlines its inspiration direct from Italy, in particular, the pizza al taglio (by the slice) approach. It’s an idea picked up on a visit to Rome, when long-time colleagues Khan Danis, Catherine Adams and Angel Fernandez visited iconic Italian pizza-chef Gabriele Bonci’s Pizzarium. The trio knew it was ripe for translation to Sydney’s inner suburbs, and returned to open Cipro.

Simple food given an under-the-hood upgrade by exacting expertise in technique and flavours.

As unfussy as the food is Cipro’s decor, concrete floors spotted by low-line tables and black stools with a patterned feature wall anchoring the whole affair. Pizza al taglio indeed, but this is definitely no New York Slice.

Cipro Pizza al Taglio
21 Fountain Street, Alexandria
(02) 9698 4183


Cow & the Moon
You no longer have to line up around the corner for great gelato. Or maybe you do, because word is getting out that the dream cream in Sydney now comes courtesy of Enmore specialists, Cow & the Moon.

Last year, owners Wendy and John Crowl trumped the rest of the world to take out the Gelato World Tour title in Rimini, Italy. And for good reason: their prized almond affogato combines caramelised Italian almonds with a single origin coffee on a Madagascan vanilla base. It’s how an affogato should be, heady flavours eased onto the palate with a silken texture.

Cow & the Moon is about bucking unsubtle flavours riddled with stabilisers to present the best ingredients from around the world in the perfect gelato, localism be damned. The results are next level – ideal for a Sunday afternoon or a late night snack after a gig at the nearby Enmore Theatre.

Cow & the Moon
181 Enmore Road, Enmore
(02) 9557 4255


10 William St
Good luck noticing this intimate restaurant on a causal drive through Paddington. But then, 10 William St has always been a slow burner, ducking the hype afforded some of the more high profile openings around Sydney over the last couple of years.

The Paradiso bothers, Enrico and Giovanni – and their partner Marco Ambrosino – have been running big brother, Fratelli Paradiso in Potts Point, for over ten years now, and that confidence translates to 10 William St. It feels like a wine bar only because it would be confusing to name it anything else — but it will blow you away with an exacting dedication to Italian provenance. Ask a question and the answer will spare no detail; their knowledge is astounding.

Drinking and dining at 10 William St then becomes its own adventure (beyond the logistics that sometimes go into getting a seat), one where you happily turn yourself over to your guides both behind the bar and in front.

10 William St
10 William Street, Paddington
(02) 9360 3310


LuMi
New restaurants. New locations. Pyrmont isn’t always the first place people think of when considering Sydney cuisine, but that’s just one of the trends LuMi happily bucks.

This is a young operation — quite literally in one sense, with chef Frederico Zanellato barely 35 years old — and that speaks to its take on Italian dining: open kitchens, slick service (with the chefs often visiting the tables themselves) and a menu that could be best described as global take on food from the peninsula — particularly with its touches of Japanese cuisine furnished by Zanellato’s experience working at the the iconic Ryugin in Tokyo.

The Wharf 10 location is simply the cherry on top: slick, modern, with an enchanting view of the harbour. It’s a restaurant that feels of a new generation, made for a new generation.

LuMi
56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont
(02) 9571 1999


ACME
What even is an Italian restaurant? That’s seems to be a question beloved by ACME’s head chef, Mitch Orr.

The idea certainly delineates this snazzy venue, with its neon and turquoise frontage, from your old-school Italian joint.

But then there’s the pasta: it may come split into small plates, much like tapas or perhaps a Lazy Susan spread at an Asian restaurant, but the playful variations – linguine with black garlic and burnt chilli, or the rye malloreddus, with asparagus and seaweed – underline the fact ACME’s heart belongs very much to the Mediterranean.

In that sense, ACME is about the old and the new: the simplicity of Italian cooking with the no fuss approach of modern dining.

It’s also about as essential as Sydney restaurants get right now. Orr has said he’ll take anything off the menu that becomes too popular. Good luck with that.

ACME
60 Bayswater Road, Rushcutters Bay
(02) 8068 0932


Sagra
The spirit of the pop-up reimagined in restaurant form. That is what seems to drive Sagra in Darlinghurst, with chef Nigel Ward’s menu changing weekly, though based on shared antipasti to start, followed by dishes like pea and ricotta ravioli with lemon butter and squid ink tagliatelle with mussels, complemented by refreshing salads. But rarely the same thing two visits in a row.

The consistent element is the venue’s familiarity, communicated through friendly staff, the terraced Darlinghurst digs and the L-shaped dining room, a setting that makes dining in feel all the more like you’re heading to a pal’s place for dinner.

It’s how an affogato should be, heady flavours eased onto the palate with a silken texture.

Sagra
62 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst
(02) 8307 0430


Besser
The small plate revolution has finally hit Italian eateries, introducing punters to all that lies beyond giant bowls of pasta and osso buco.

Such is life at Besser, the Crown Street trattoria that occupies Billy Kwong’s digs. The whole operation recalls owner Eugenio Maiale’s youth growing up in suburban Adelaide: see the besser block walls, Polyprop chairs and Laminex-looking tables. The experience is akin to something old become new again, eschewing the quest for Mediterranean authenticity with a second-generation variety of Italian experience that all Australians are familiar with.

So you have the garlic bread, which is listed as “Yesterday’s bread, garlic butter”, or fried sardines that resemble fish fingers, or the meatballs that are, well, nothing more or less than delicious meatballs.

Still, Besser’s skill and attitude shine best with the 6:30pm Risotto. Arrive by 7pm and you might be lucky enough to nab yourself a plate.

Besser
Shop 2 355 Crown Street, Surry Hills


Pasticceria PAPA
Pasticceria PAPA isn’t exactly new — Salvatore Papa moved to Australia from his native Sicily back in 1988 — but it’s his spin on traditional sweets that makes this outstanding bakery a go-to for cannoli, cheesecake or a pistachio biscuit (a favourite at the Broadsheet offices).

PAPA’s current pride and joy is its expansive new frontage in Bondi, which completes a trio of stores (Five Dock being the third) pumping out all manner of goodies, including ricotta- and chocolate-filled cannoli, crisp biscotti and glazed fruit tarts. PAPA also offer some excellent gelato, their flavours defined by a clutch of milk-free fruit and chocolate options, ideal for those who don’t enjoy rolling home.

Still, the corner shop in Haberfield remains the charming little gem in PAPA’s crown, a beautiful place to sip espresso, eat some deliriously flavoured sweets and watch the world (or the Little Italy of Haberfield, at least) go by.

Pasticceria PAPA
145 Ramsay Street, Haberfield
(02) 9798 6894


Capriccio Osteria & Bar
Traditional Italian dining is almost a formal affair. But part of the Italian New Wave is an appetite for a more casual dining experience – a focus on flavour and less on pomp or circumstance.

Hence you have Matteo Galletto and Michele Rispoli’s Capriccio, which upon opening became nearly instantly the greatest sandwich joint in town. Panini is the focus here, head chef Bryan Gerlini wood-firing it all for extra deliciousness. Fillings include porchetta with fennel and radicchio and mixed mushrooms with truffled mozzarella.

Most of the bar food slides through the oven as well. Cotechino on lentil buns and passatelli with mussels are customer favourites. Old school pasta dishes take the shape of cacao e pepe (cheese and pepper) and spaghetti aglio e olio.

The fit-out is light and airy, with communal tables, rustic shelves above the bar populated by bottles of San Pellegrino and crockery imported from the Amalfi Coast. Out back is a sunny courtyard — the perfect spot for spring lunches.

It’s a restaurant that feels of a new generation, made for a new generation.

Capriccio Osteria & Bar
159 Norton Street, Leichhardt
(02) 9572 7607


Cafe Sopra & Fratelli Fresh
The march of the Fratelli Fresh empire continues, with these Bridge Street digs, deep in the CBD, their best outpost yet.

Set in the intriguing subterranean space of a former spice market underneath Steersons Steakhouse (think low ceilings, lacquered concrete floors, moody down lights and liberal splashes of red), Bridge Street adds its own mozzarella bar where you can perch and sample the fresh stuff with prosciutto or perhaps some pickled radish.

It’s a good place to get a taste for the friendly chaos of Cafe Sopra before deciding whether you want a slice of the action proper. You should: old favourites like linguine with preserved lemon and whole baked trout are present and accounted for, but in a romantic space riddled with inviting nooks and crannies.

Give yourself plenty of time on the weekends. You may be waiting a while for a table.

Cafe Sopra & Fratelli Fresh
11 Bridge Street, Sydney
(02) 8298 2700


This article is presented by Peroni.

  • Cipro Pizza al Taglio 21 Fountain Street, Alexandria (02) 9698 4183 View profile
  • Cow & the Moon 181 Enmore Road, Enmore (02) 9557 4255 View profile
  • 10 William St 10 William Street, Paddington (02) 9360 3310 View profile
  • LuMi 56 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont (02) 9571 1999 View profile
  • ACME 60 Bayswater Road, Rushcutters Bay (02) 8068 0932 View profile
  • Sagra 62 Stanley Street, Darlinghurst (02) 8307 0430 View profile
  • Besser Shop 2 355 Crown Street, Surry Hills (02) 9331 1611 View profile
  • Pasticceria PAPA 145 Ramsay Street, Haberfield (02) 9798 6894 View profile
  • Capriccio Osteria & Bar 159 Norton Street, Leichhardt (02) 9572 7607 View profile
  • Cafe Sopra & Fratelli Fresh 11 Bridge Street, Sydney (02) 8298 2700 View profile