Waves of déjà vu from a previous Secret Foodies filled my mind as yet again we host a secret dinner party at 160 Flinders St, Paddington. Those who dined at Morgan McGlone's French Bistro, Flinders Inn would barely recognise the space. The mood has shifted from white tablecloths to dark walls, sexy lighting and a large open window peeking out on to the busy street.
Sicilian born Fabio Alacqua has brought a little piece of Sicily to Sydney with a focus on fresh, seasonal produce and a style of authentic cooking inspired by the centuries old food market, La Vucciria in Palermo. Having trained in Barcelona, Fabio had worked in top restaurants near his hometown of Milazzo before coming abroad.
What brings him to Sydney? It’s a beautiful tale of boy meets girl. A Sicilian chef meets a Sydney fashionista (and now wife Stephanie). It was Fabio’s dream to open his own restaurant in Australia and so together, they did. They opened a restaurant, and then had a baby. Not part of the plan managing two babies at once but who said life was simple?
So many people would go past this restaurant every day and if it weren’t for a basket of chili’s out front you’d probably blink and miss it. For those curious enough to make a booking or walk in I suggest you time your arrival. Staying true to Italian tradition 5-7pm is aperitivo hour (the equivalent of our happy hour but with better food than beer nuts).
We start our evening with an Aperol Spritz, an aperitif originating from Italy’s north, made with Aperol and a splash of prosecco. There are tapas on the bar for guests to nibble before we take our seats. It is an unexpected busy night and our (very Italian) bartender is rushed off his feet.
The theme of tonights dinner is focused on street food you would find in the markets of La Vucciria. Dishes are designed to be shared amongst friends so grab a small group and embrace the Italian way.
We are spoilt with choice and volume at this dinner and practically try everything on the menu from arancini to eggplant involtini and two different types of fresh homemade pasta. Sicilian diets are seafood rich with tuna meatballs and stuffed grilled garfish on tonights menu. The veal carpaccio and slow-roasted grass-fed lamb satisfies our meat eaters and everyone seems pleased with dessert, especially the baked Amaretto figs with lemon ricotta cream.
The wine list offers both Italian and Australian wines but we stay true to the Italian experience with this evenings dinner. A dry white from Tuscany, Rocca della Macia is light and fresh with a slight hint of almond in the aftertaste while the Nero D’avola, a rich red hailing from Sicily and full-bodied.
La Vucciria and friendly neighbourhood restaurant with good food and warm hospitality at a reasonable price. Perfect for small groups and starting your night with a few spritzers and tapas before dinner. I’ve added it to my recommendations list of authentic Italian. But enough about what I think, let’s hear what our foodies had to say.