Italy doesn’t have a single cuisine. There is heavy dumpling goulash in the north, and pan-seared fish and textured bread in the south. And every town and village has its own spin on spaghetti. Here are the best Italian restaurants in Sydney that explore the many regions of delicious Italy.
Capriccio has a solid reputation among Leichhardt locals. It’s the place to go for good, clean Italian. The sculptural iron furniture, communal tables and signature sunny-yellow colour palette create a homey feel. On the first Tuesday of every month, until August 2, the restaurant is hosting a regional dinner. The menu visits four Italian provinces. Emilia-Romagna has been visited in the past, so the next stop is the Mediterranean coast of Sardegna. Try dishes with pecorino cheese and suckling pig, before moving onto the seafood-heavy Amalfi Coast for Neopolitan pizza and spaghetti vongole. Finish up in Liguria, the home of pesto and focaccia.
Capriccio Osteria’s regional dinners are held on the first Tuesday of every month until August 2, 2016.The five-course set menu costs $65 per person, and includes matching wines. Book online here.
Berta is a slick Italian restaurant hidden on Alberta Street, a laneway on the cusp of Surry Hills and the CBD. It doesn’t over-think Italian cuisine’s main strengths: simplicity and freshness. Once a week, Berta ditches the printed menu and head chef Jamie Irving creates a dinner inspired by what’s on hand. Each seasonal menu is dedicated to one or two ingredients, such as pear and rhubarb; citrus, artichoke and apple; and all-important cheese.
Berta’s seasonal night is every Tuesday and costs $55 per person for the set menu. Book online here.
The team behind this little Italian spot has got its work cut out for it. It’s ambitious to shift the region and menu every fortnight, but the move from mountains to sea appears seamless. A lot of planning and prep goes into these meals, but it does make for a menu that’s exciting and easy to return to.
At the moment, the north-eastern region of Veneto is being explored, with dishes such as zesty fish with rice and polenta. On the second Tuesday of every month, the kitchen hones in on a particular town in Veneto.
Ombretta’s menu is on constant rotation every fortnight, and prices vary according to the menu. You can book online here.
Vini’s fixed-price regional dinners are an institution, offering four courses plus wine for a tidy $55. The walls are painted black and act as a huge chalkboard, which details the ingredients of each dish and its corresponding provincial wine. Chef Stephen Santucci has designed a menu that stretches our expectations of Italian food. Santucci honours a rustic style of Italian cooking with flavours and textures reminiscent of an island holiday. Dishes such as pan-fried king fish with grilled eggplant, and fennel and prosciutto with plump green olives make way for the slow-cooked secondi.
Vini’s seasonal night is every Tuesday and costs $55 for a four-course set menu. You can book online here.
After two years of regional dinners, Sagra has a good grip on Italy’s different provincial palates. It’s now moving away from strict provincial themes to study Italian food from all angles.
Sagra’s last regional dinner focused on Australia, riffing on the cheesy misinterpretations of Italian cuisine common here. Greasy garlic bread and bowls of spag bol were re-imagined with dexterity. The regional nights are held on the first Wednesday of every month, but expect fun interpretations such as the upcoming butter vs olive oil, north vs south debate.
Sagra’s seasonal dinners are held on the first Wednesday of every month and include a four-course set menu at $60 per person. You can book online here.