The fact that Concord’s main eat street is within a stone’s throw has meant that sleepy little Cabarita Road hasn’t felt compelled to reach beyond a somewhat bedraggled chicken shop and a pocket-sized bottle-o. That was until chef Paolo Gatto came to town and opened one of Sydney’s best southern Italian restaurants.
SUD, literally meaning south, is packed from open till close and usually boasts a sizeable crowd milling around the door, waiting for someone to finish their trofi cu sudo (hand cut twists of pasta drowned in pork, veal and sausage ragu and topped with pecorino) and bloody well leave.
It’s cooking from the pointy end of the boot – namely, the regions of Campania, Calabria and Sicily, and Gatto, who is also Head Chef at Five Dock’s award winning Gatto Matto Trattoria, does it well. It’s the kind of food Italians buy on the street or eat at home while crowded around big communal tables. It’s food that should be shared, savoured and, most importantly, not overthought.
In line with this, SUD’s menu is definitely based on simplicity. There’s the Roman-style pizzas (with a crispier base than their Neapolitan counterparts) that mostly feature good quality fiori di latte mozzarella and the odd basil leaf, crispy aranicini balls ($14) filled with rustic bolognese and mushy peas, and a range of smaller bites that all share a carb-heavy foundation.
The mini calzone ($12) are actually doughnuts that have somehow charmed their way onto the entree list. These rather tasty pockets of sweet dough have been stuffed with ham and mozzarella and lightly fried to resemble what the Italians call zeppoli and usually dust with sugar for dessert. A single serve consists of four overstuffed (yet delicious) pockets so moderation is advised.
Follow these little guys with a plate of the aforementioned torfi ($22), a slow-cooked pork neck which comes smothered in caramelised onion, and a fresh insalata mista and you’ve got yourself a hearty meal to feed a family of roughly eighty. Although Gatto and his team do a mean dessert, including sweet ravioli filled with candied fruit and ricotta cannoli, stomach capacity has usually reached critical mass by this point so order at your own peril.
Image credit: Alessandro Squadrito