Raphael Place is Sydney’s brand new mini-dining precinct. Hidden in a courtyard at the end of an unsuspecting laneway near Circular Quay, it features just two restaurants and is encircled by both the heritage-listed Government House stables and the soaring One Farrer Place skyscraper, making it a small but extra charming culinary oasis in the heart of the city.
On the far side of the courtyard is Raphael’s—the mini precinct’s all-day Italian eatery, cocktail and wine bar. Open for coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks Monday through Friday, Raphael’s draws its inspiration from Milan in the 60s and 70s.
Wide white loungers and benches line the courtyard, backed by a huge blue-lit bar. If dining alfresco isn’t a vibe, beyond the bar, Raphael’s continues into the sandstone basements of the historic terraces lining Phillip Street. Plush wine-coloured velvet banquettes set the tone in this stylish and secretive subterranean section, with curtained off spaces for private dining.
The kitchen is led by head chef Enrico Gelin, with drinks being guided by Quynh Nguyen and everything else overseen by restaurant manager, Paolo Turina.
Start your feast with antipasti (like calamari fritti, diamond clams served cold and fluffy focaccia), charcuterie boards (or tagliere), before graduating to Raphael's perfect, melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin and macadamia ravioli. Served with Reggiano, sage and burnt butter, it might be the best we've ever had.
Pasta is made fresh in house and you can expect the menu to feature a few specials on seasonal rotation. For now, the cuttlefish taglioni comes with blue swimmer crab, chilli and grape tomatoes; there's a fusilli al brisket ragu and (for dinner) a whole roast Tasmanian octopus is plated up with Kipfler potatoes and olive for a very reasonable $30. Dinner also sees a shortlist of caviar added to the menu, if you're feeling fancy.
For dessert, refined classics are in order—a trio of cannoli, tiramisu or affogato.
To drink, there are strawberry, rhubarb and elderflower spritz and a few pretty surprising spins on the iconic Negroni—like the ham and pineapple Negroni, which is exactly as it sounds, served with ham, pineapple, Mancino Secco and Gran Classico. If you have a sweet tooth there's a chocolate and truffle old fashioned made with Stone Pine Truffle Gin.
And finally, Raphael's lengthy wine list covers Aussie, French and, of course, Italian-made vino.
Image credit: Raphael's