Cuisine: Italian

A great big welcoming wooden door flanked with potted red geraniums beckons you inside this out-of-the-way homestead. The antipasto plate, $12 per person, is arranged with fresh morsels, including Sicilian olives, salami and crumbed mushrooms. There’s a big emphasis on housemade ingredients, from the warm, crusty focaccia to the tagliatelle. The small a la carte menu changes regularly, so it’s good to ask the staff for advice on today’s best offerings. If it’s on, the zuppetta (soup) of fresh tomatoes, molluscs and swordfish $33 served with crusty bread is perfect for the colder months. Pasta might be a simple linguine with braised fennel and tomatoes $24 or a more complex green rocket gnocchi with snapper and black olives $25. Mains are homely, such as beef fillet with marinated pumpkin and rocket, drizzled with an amaretto reduction $28. Everything is seasonal and wonderfully traditional.


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Cuisine: Italian,Italian

Italian food was not meant to be fussy. Plain, simple and fresh, it’s synonymous with a loud, bustling atmosphere and generous servings and that’s what you’ll find right here, in the heart of Sydney’s original Little Italy. Papa Giovanni may not be flipping the pizza dough any more but rest assured you’ll see his protégé making Papa proud and serving up crowd-pleasing toppings such as garlic, chilli and prawn $16 and parma ham, rocket and mozzarella $15. Try marinated and butterflied barbecued spatchcock $20 if it’s on, or crabmeat farfalle (butterfly-shaped pasta) tossed simply with garlic, parsley and olive oil $24. Check out the specials, too, and if there’s enough of you the set menu’s great value.

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Cuisine: Italian,Italian,Italian

This is no tourist trap. It’s the real deal: good food and great views. This beach-chic cafe by day and elegant trattoria by night has been feeding the people of Bondi for more than 20 years. If you’re a just-ran-the-Bondi-to-Bronte sort of morning person, reward yourself with crostini, smoked salmon, avocado, Spanish onion, capers and mascarpone $13.90. If you’re hung over, you’ll need a bacon and egg sandwich with smoky tomato relish $14.90. You’ll see ladies who lunch enjoying the fresh, light pasta dishes: angelhair pasta with raw tuna, rocket, parmesan and chilli oil $22.90, a particular favourite. Dinner sees sophisticated offerings such as barbecued spring lamb with baby beets, peas and goat’s cheese fritters $34.90. Shame if you’re not a local. 

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Cuisine: Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian

This charming Crown Street newcomer has been packing in ragazzi of all ages from day one. There’s a smart, gleaming European cafe fit-out, armies of friendly young waiters, lashings of white napery, authentic Sicilian tableware and music from compatriota such as Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. Menu staples include mozzarella in carrozza, a deep-fried mozzarella sandwich $14, baked pasta ring for lunch $18, and fat, juicy pork and fennel sausages for dinner $23. Wines include Sicilian and local choices. The new dessert queen on the Crown Street block has to be the cassata Siciliana $9, a divine ricotta cake rich with cream, candied fruit and green marzipan icing — the best we’ve had outside Sicily, bar none. The quote on the menu from the stupendous La Loren — “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti” — is a philosophy worth adopting.

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Cuisine: Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian

This family-friendly Italian trattoria, tucked away in a tiny shopping enclave, is about 45 minutes north of the CBD but you’d be happy to drive twice that far for its cucina rustica. Hot and cold antipasti are mounded on wooden blocks (one selection serves four to six $30–$90) and more than a dozen varieties of pizza $17–$25 go in and out of the wood-fired oven. Far more than a pizzeria, though, Cavallino comes up with the goods on pasta and main courses as well: oven-roasted pesce del giorno with browned potatoes and salad, market price (our snapper was $35), and housemade gnocchi napoletana $21 are just two of many choices. On Tuesdays a special pizza and beer night, $24 per cover, is pulling in the locals — why not join them?

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Cuisine: Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian

Muted tones, a pebble feature wall and banks of full-length windows provide a backdrop for the ever loud, brash and bubbly atmosphere of this place. The menu as vast as it has always been. Entrees include classics such as goat cheese-stuffed zucchini flowers $16.90and a lobster and scampi bisque $13.90. Mains feature pork cutlets braised in barolo $23.90and meltingly tender veal parmigiana $21.90. Then there are the pages and pages of salads, cold appetisers, pasta, risotto in two sizes and pizza, both traditional and “gourmet” $13.90–$23.90. Housemade tiramisu, panacotta and zabaglione (in winter), all $8.90, along with 50 flavours of gelato, round off the meal in perfect Italian style.

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Cuisine: Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian

It’s a restaurant, it’s a bar, it’s a pizzeria. Whether you want to have the Big Night Out or just a casual bite and a glass or two of wine, this can be your place, either way. The woodfired pizza and calzone $16.90–$25.90 cover a good range of traditional toppings using great ingredients and there’s an extensive list of pasta and risotto dishes, including a flavoursome penne con salcicce and ricotta $17.90/$20.90 and gnocchi with blue swimmer crabmeat in napoletana sauce $19.90/$22.90. In the secondi, despite the hefty price tag it’s hard to pass up the cacciucco, fresh seafood tossed in garlic & chilli, slow cooked in a tomato-based sauce and served with freshly baked bread $35.90, but check out the specials, too. A stylish interior with white-clothed tables and the glow of the pizza oven make it a great local venue.


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Cuisine: Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Modern Australian,Italian

This versatile, stylish and comfortable place in one of Sydney’s most surprisingly attractive residential developments is what the Italians call a gastronomia: you can eat here from breakfast to dinner, come in for coffee and cakes or gelato, and buy wine, bread (house-baked), coffee, groceries et cetera. Everything about it is as Italian as Armani and we love it. At breakfast, opt for the pastries (made on site) and espresso or tuck into a Roman Emperor’s breakfast $17.50 for the lot (all eggs used are free range and organic). At lunch, a simple calamari griglia $20 with a glass of pinot grigio will do the trick. Prices hike to around the $30 mark at dinner but there’s pizza $13–$17 and a reasonably priced misto di mare for one $39.

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Cuisine: Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Modern Australian,Italian,Italian

Tucked around a corner in Cross Street between shops, the umbrella-covered tables and chairs of Dish wait to be occupied early on a weekday evening. In summer, tables are seldom set up inside, allowing you to indulge summer-feast style in the open air. The most striking feature here is the good value. Generous servings beg to be shared, such as a small pizza Mediterraneo $18 and a salad of roast beetroot, red onion, beans, spinach, roast garlic and yoghurt dressing $14.50. An entree of octopus braised in red wine $12.50 and spaghettini with calamari, mussels, prawns and scallops $27.50 are both winners. By 8pm the place is full of local families taking a slice of the excellent value, along with scoops of housemade gelati.

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Cuisine: Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Italian,Modern Australian,Italian,Italian,Italian

An enoteca is a wine shop in Italy and Enopizzeria translates into a pizzeria with a serious wine list, divided into styles (for example, full-bodied and full-flavoured whites or aromatic with more weight). And, in case you didn’t get the message, the dark and cosy dining room is lined with bottles. The menu is divided into inizi (starters), salumi e formaggi (cured meats and cheese), continui (mains) and per finire (to finish). And, of course, pizza $20–$25 numbers 24 varieties on the list plus a special. Our Gustosa was a heady combination of fennel-laced sausage, mushrooms and truffle oil $24. With stuffed zucchini flowers ($7 each) and fried whitebait $13 this would have been sufficient for most — except gluttons like us; we couldn’t resist a carpaccio of pineapple with pistachio icecream $13.

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