I Maccheroni operates like a nonna’s kitchen. Bread is baked in-house, pastas are prepared daily and the menu rotates around seasonal produce. Usually these kinds of restaurants are expensive or serious. Not this one. “I live up the road. Being a chef I don't always want to cook but there was nothing around here,” says Marcello Farioli, I Maccheroni’s owner and head chef. “Only super fine dining, like Catalina or Regatta, or very basic takeaway.” So he created exactly what he wanted, a casual place where you can drop in for a quick coffee; a plate of pasta; a leg of lamb; or stay for a few glasses of natural wine and a crumbed tiramisu.
Farioli doesn’t have a huge name in Sydney yet, mostly because he’s been in the catering industry (with Pearl Catering and Rustic Kitchen) for the past few years. Before that he was at Otto Ristorante and Pendolino. In short – he’s got some serious chops, which are all on show here on a short, simple but very refined menu of traditional Italian recipes.
The house signature is the homemade maccheroni; long, chewy strands of star-shaped tubes, currently served with either a brisket ragout, cavolo nero (Tuscan kale) and fontina. It also comes with garlic prawns, zucchini and cherry tomatoes.
But his proudest achievement, and possibly the only dish that will withstand his weekly menu tweaks, is the homemade spinach tortelli (round, flat ravioli) with burnt butter, crisp sage and Parmigiano Reggiano. After years of begging he finally got the recipe from the owner of a famous Italian restaurant in Rubiera, Clinica Gastronomica. “I used to eat this with my family when I was little in Italy,” says Farioli. “When I came back [from Italy] and saw this space I knew I needed this dish.”
The space fits Farioli’s vision. It’s small, sunlit ,and has an open façade. There is one bare-brick wall and another covered in blackboards. A single long, communal table is the seating option. “I always like the idea of a blackboard and this raw, industrial look. I know it's the trend now, but I like it because it's casual and approachable,” he says.
528 Old South Head Road, Rose Bay (02) 9371 6328
Tue to Fri 12pm–2pm, 6pm–9.30pm