If a single dish exemplifies Barbetta’s breakfast offering, it’s the “Carbonara Australiana”. Ostensibly it is scrambled eggs on sourdough toast. But this version comes with liberal grindings of pecorino and black pepper, and slices of crisp bacon. It evokes the classic Roman pasta dish without straying too far from what’s considered normal at brunch.
Barbetta is from the three brothers behind Cipri Italian, Carmelo, Anthony and Joe, and their namesake restaurant is next door on Elizabeth Street, just off Paddington’s reinvigorated stretch of Oxford Street.
The Il Contadino (“The Farmer”) is Barbetta’s take on a breakfast burger. It has truffle-infused pan-fried mortadella and cavalo nero (kale). In the San Benedetto, golden hollandaise drips from poached eggs on toasted muffins. It’s served with truffled mushrooms, crushed peas and a mild ‘nduja.
Lunch is a more traditional affair. There are classics such as carbonara, eggplant parmigiana, pork and veal meatballs, and calamari fritti. There’s also the Best Ever Lasagna, executed in the traditional Bologna style, which is also one of the several frozen meals available to take home from the small provedore housed inside Barbetta.
The signature bombe (Italian doughnut) is light yet cake-y and the cannoli are crisp. The famously difficult-to-perfect shell-shaped filled pastry, sfogliatelle, (the name means "small, thin leaf layer") are perfectly light.
The interior has curved timber lines, a sleek counter and shiny fixtures evoking a 1940s Milanese diner. Barbetta also runs a cooking school.
A recipe from Barbetta is featured in The Broadsheet Italian Cookbook. Buy your copy at shop.broadsheet.com.au.