Obey the Rumble 22-25 August
This week I’ve been drooling enviously over my friend’s Italian holiday snaps. The scenery is amazing, of course. The weather looks fabulous. But what’s really provoking my green-eyed monster is all the photographs of food. The Italians know how to eat. They just do. I’ve been staring longingly at platters of glistening antipasti, filled-to-the-brim bowls of pasta, huge glasses of rough Italian reds, and mountains of gelato. Ok, I can’t afford a ticket to the Amalfi Coast any time soon, but I can still get my fill of La Dolce Vita by sneaking into a few Italian treasures in Sydney for some amazing food.
If you’re in the mood for a mellow Thursday eve, hop in the car and drive to the Old School Trattoria. Yes, it’s in St. Ives, and I know that’s distressingly distanced from the hipster enclaves we youth prefer to frequent, but it’s worth it. I used to eat here as a child and it’s still going strong. Basically it’s like sitting down inside someone’s house in Tuscany and eating until you can’t stand up. I used to eat so much here that I’d fall asleep, face-first, onto the table and have to be carried out by my dad. Pina and Franco never judged. Everything is good, but particular recommendations are the devilishly cheesy quattro stagioni pizza, the spaghetti con scampi (to share) or if only one person wants scampi then the gorgeous scampi alla Griglia with succulent little rosemary potatoes. Meat lovers can gorge on the Fiorentina (a massive T-bone steak). You may get the meat sweats afterwards. For dessert split the gelato misto and the perfectly balanced tiramisu. Try and go with someone with strong arms accustomed to heavy lifting.
The Old School Trattoria, 205 Mona Vale Road, St. Ives
Get showered and coiffed after work and then head to Paddington dining sensation Buon Ricardo. Warm up your taste buds with a light, zingy finocchiara, a yummy salad of artichoke and fennel (my new favourite thing) with olive oil, parmesan and lemon. Or get the barbabietola, just because it’s fun to say, then marvel over the flavour combination of earthy beetroot, zappy orange, creamy ricotta and fresh mint. If you’re the kind of irritating person that insists they have a tiny appetite and can only order one dish, then I insist on you making that one course as fabulous as possible by getting the fettuccine. One of the most exquisite dishes I have ever experienced in my entire life, just looking at a photo of it on the website with the shiny fried truffle egg and creamy swathes of parmesan has transported me into pleasurable spasms of memory. One of the best parts is watching the waiters toss it for you, table side. The other best part is eating it. Definitely get the coretto con grappa at the end; all the cool kids do. Or sweet tooths can coo over the thick, indulgent cioccolata calda. If it’s a really special event and you’re splashing out, try the six-course degustation menu for $130.
Buon Ricardo, 108 Boundary Street, Paddington
You slept in late because you ended up hitting Oxford Street pretty hard last night (coretto con grappa will give you wings.) Drag yourself out of bed in time for a lazy afternoon lunch at Bar Italia in Leichardt. It’s an unassuming little place, nothing fancy, but you can judge the food by the frequent queues to get a table. If it’s sunny then snatch up an outdoor seat and a newspaper. Make friends with the dog sitting hopefully at your feet. Then order anything and everything. I personally like trying whatever pasta is on the little specials board. Last time was a simple but heavenly bowl of penne arrabbiata – with just the perfect level of anger in the spicy, ridiculously tasty sauce, not to mention the silkiness of the pasta and the generosity of the portion (it took me a good half hour scrape the bowl clean). Get some cannoli or gelato afterwards to cool your tingling lips. Walk off the carb-coma by strolling up and down Norton Street and nosing around the delis. Oh and it’s cash only so bring some, else risk lining up at the weird ATM up the road for ten minutes behind other hungry, impatient people who’d forgotten Bar Italia don’t take cards.
Bar Italia, 171 Norton Street, Leichardt
Time for a bit of food shopping. You know the whole ‘Never shop hungry’ thing? Fuck it. Leave the house starving hungry and eat along the way. We’re lucky that Sydney has an abundance of high quality Italian delis. Some of the best are in Five Dock. For coffee beans, pasta, some amazing cheeses and maybe some deli meats (be prepared to queue) head to Ranieri’s. The staff at this continental deli will advise you on the best cuts to get and if you’re like me you can spend a happy forty minutes just browsing around all the goodies. Sample whatever you’re offered and get a freshly made sandwich to take away. I haven’t been yet but this weekend I’m planning on visiting Lamonica IGA in Haberfield – I’ve heard amazing things about their deli section. It sounds dangerous. I might stock up on some food to prepare an Italian pizza feast on Sunday night. All I’ll need is a bottle of chianti classico I’ll be good to go. Or maybe I’ll make some negronis and go all Milanese. Carb free diet starts next week.
Ranieri Deli, 97 Great North Rd, Five Dock
Lamonica IGA, 155 Ramsay Street, Haberfield
- Lucy McNabb