The new Sydney Italian restaurant mixes old and new, courtesy of Diego Arata (ex-Mezzalira, a Canberra Italian stalwart). There’s a comprehensive selection of shared pre-main bites, pasta and protein mains, as well as side dishes here at Beccafico Bar & Trattoria. Choice paralysis, don’t let me down.
Wine recommendations from your waiter are a lot like getting a bad haircut from your local hairdresser. You have to pretend you like it, to keep everyone happy. Despite signalling my preference for Italian varietals, our well-meaning waiter recommends us a New Zealand merlot malbec. It’s the only one he’s tried on the menu, he says, and like the wuss with a regrettable haircut I am, I weakly smile and accept his recommendation. While it’s fine, I can’t help but wonder what life would have been like with a glass of Italian vino by my side.
In The Simpsons episode where Lisa becomes vegetarian, Homer is skeptical that pork, bacon and ham come from the same animal—“Yeah right Lisa, some wonderful, maaaagical animal!” This scene plays in my head as the salumi selection arrives. It’s a generous quartet of cured pig meats, from delicate culatello to liver-y mortadella. The accompanying house-made grissini and foccacia are addictive. I almost commit culinary suicide by filling up on the meats and carbs straight off the bat.
The kingfish carpaccio provides relief from the preceding pig-out, and the sardines stuffed with pinenuts and sultanas are fine, but nothing to write home about. However, the eggplant parmagiana is excellent. It’s a perfect oblong of impossibly luscious eggplant and tomato sugo, layered with buffalo ricotta and finished with a gentle sprinkle of parmesan. This lighter, modern take on a classic Italian dish pays off in spades here.
Just when you think you’ve run the gauntlet of pasta shapes, you get your second wind. The night’s special of crabmeat-artichoke heart pasta gets a shout out for reginette, a curly linguine that is instantly my new favourite shape (move over alphabet pasta), closely followed by the paccheri. The paccheri is like sumo-sized penne, served here with a hefty oxtail ragu and studded with celery leaves. On a mild spring night, it’s a little heavy-going, but come winter time, it’s the type of dish I could get very cosy with.
The spatchock alla diavola is the most interesting-sounding of the secondi dishes. We choose well—it arrives skin-crisp and flesh-succulent, and kicks up a few notches with a squeeze of lemon, the gentle burn of chilli, and a side of golden roasted potatoes.
The dessert choice is unanimous at our table—the word ‘donuts’ has that sort of effect. The zeppole are fluffy spherical clouds of pastry, served with a Cointreau and chocolate sauce. The hard part is ensuring an even sauce-to-donuts ratio while we eat. The easy part is eating them.
At new Sydney Italian restaurant Beccafico, the worst thing that can happen is that you’ll be stuck for choice. And that’s not a bad thing at all.
Still in the mood for Italian? Check out our favourite new-style Italian restaurants in Sydney.
Image credit: Daryl Kong