Past Events


Start with a spring Saturday night, add 25 food lovers, some funny ‘designer’ moustaches, masks, a new Italian Trattoria and you have Secret Foodies #8. The secret destination was Lanzafame, the latest addition to Sydney’s casual Italian dining scene in the eastern suburbs. Located just off Crown St, towards Woolloomooloo this little gem is slightly off the beaten track but worth the detour.

Only 5 months old, Lanzafàme Trattoria is the creation of John Lanzafame. No rookie to the Sydney food scene John was the former Executive Chef at Hugo’s. In 2008 he was a member of the Australian Culinary Olympic Team that won gold in Germany (yes there is a food Olympics, how do I get a job being that judge?) John also won the 2005 world pizza champion in New York.

With credentials like that you’d expect to eat some pretty darn good pizza! We weren’t disappointed. To start we tried three of his signature pizza’s including the Margherita, Pork Belly and Garlic Prawn. Not a huge pork eater I was amazed to find my favoutie was the Pork Belly with tomato, mozzarella, sweet & sour onion, porkbelly, orgegano & radicchio salad. What I liked about the pizzas was the simple flavours…no overpowering ingredients.

Feeling satisfied, I managed to make room for the tasting plate that followed. John’s special spiced salami, pork & veal meatball, seared scallop and prawns were laid before us. My favourite was the seared scallop.

Looking around the table I wasn’t the only one reaching their food threshold so when an alternate drop of pasta dishes were brought out I began the mental process of how to finish. Let’s just say I’m writing this with my top button undone on my pants and I intend on going for a long run this afternoon. All of the pasta had been hand made on site, the meat slow cooked and all ingredients were locally sourced.

Sharing with 2 fellow foodies we divided our dishes into 3 and had a chance to taste them all. The simple Italian dishes included Fettucini Beef cheek ragu, Parppadelle with Rabbit ragu and Maccheroni with Lamb shank, potato & pea casserole topped w grated pecorino. My favourite dish was the maccheroni with lamb shank. I found the other two dishes very heavy, especially after pizza and tasting plates and couldn’t finish.

I recommend not eating anything before you come to Lanzafame if you intend on eating half of what we were served. Alternatively you can ask for a take away container for later…one of our foodies did!

The wine list is reasonable and there are some yummy cocktails to be had. We kicked off the night with two great Martini cocktails designed for the evening.

After dinner, John took time out of the kitchen to answer a few foodie questions including my standard 3: Favorite Eat: Pork Belly, Favourite Drink: Bourbon and Favorite Play: Eating again! John also shared his passion for seasonal produce, words of wisdom from his mother on cooking and his upcoming appearance on Masterchef Junior.

Secret Foodies regulars and smiley new faces made it a wonderful evening. I thought the atmosphere was fun for a Saturday night, the food was wholesome and the pork belly pizza was my favourite dish of the evening. I recommend Lanzafame for casual, affordable dining any night of the week and especially great for groups. A great night full of food, wine and as usual the fabulous strangers who quickly became new friends!

But enough about what I thought, let’s hear what our foodies had to say…

xxMs Darlinghurst
  1. Huw
    Great, hearty pasta dishes with rich sauces and meat –
    Try the parppadelle with rabbit ragu – all pastas made from scratch and the meat cooked slow until tender – will definitely satisfy your hunger and leave you with a smile on your face : )
  2. angelene
    The pork belly pizza was a revelation and the parppardelle with rabbit ragu was outstanding.
    Very reasonable wine list, spectacular tasting plate, generous servings & a passionate/engaging owner/head chef make Lanzafame delightful.
    I will definitely go back but probably will never have pizza AND pasta again in the same evening = food coma.
    All in all the restaurant is fab but it was the awesome company that made it a top night.
    Check out the matrix style/ alternate reality bathrooms. Total spinner!
  3. Steph
    Very yummy! The pork belly pizza was amazing but never would have known there was pork in it! The tasting plate was yummy too!!! As always though it was the lovely Ms. Darlinghurst and her guests that made the night worthwhile….
  4. Emmanuel
    Whilst my ancestry within me laments the loss of the former site of Ouzo88 in this quiet area of Crown St, I can safely say that its replacement, Lanzafame, left me satisfied.
    The pizzas were fantastic (as expected of the Hugo’s veteran) with thin, crisp crust and extremely flavoursome topping. The pork belly pizza was definitely a new entry to the palette, with the mix of radicchio, oregano and sweet & sour onion adding some nice bite. In all honesty though I will admit, like Steph, that I didn’t notice the pork belly… perhaps I pulled the short straw on my piece.
    Our move onto the tasting plate was surprising, purely based on the fact that portion sizes and variety were impressive. This dish as a whole was at the top of my foodie experiences for the night, with the home made salami a clear winner on the dish (though not an easy contest next to the incredibly large scallop that graced the plate).
    At this point I was well and truly satisfied but still looked forward to the pasta dishes which were to come. Unfortunately I came off a little disappointed with the pasta. All three dishes were definitely visually impressive and had a main ingredient list that could only leave the mouth water, but all in all I felt they fell a little flat with flavour. I tried both the lamb shank macaroni and the beef cheek fettucini, both of which just lacked that bit of flavour… that bit of punch, to which my surrounding foodies also agreed.
    All in all though, a fabulous foodie experience in a lovely modern setting, in good company, served by a seasoned and incredibly passionate chef.
  5. Mmmm, carb heaven! The secret might be to have a minimum table of 6-8 so you only get a single piece of each type of pizza and a mouthful of each pasta, kind of like Italian tapas! He he!
  6. The italian traditional Trattoria is a well established food tradition aiming to provide the right balance of good, unpretentious food and service without demanding a price premium that makes it a place you cant afford to eat at on a semi-regular basis – and Lanzafamme was no different.
    The pizzas of John Lanzafamme have become a bit of an institution at Hugo’s over the last 4 years, and at Lanzafamme the high quality of the offering continues. I can say with absolute certainty that the best pizza I have ever eaten is John Lanzafamme’s Pork Belly pizza, the seafood and margherita style pizzas were also excellent, I really can’t fault them – and I can fault almost anything – trust me, they’re good.
    The tasting plate that followed the pizzas was a little bit of a departure from the standard trattoria fare, almost Japanese in the precision and form of it’s presentation it gave us a little variety and included slices of John’s home made salami. It was all in all, a nice diversion and a good breather after stuffing myself with pizza.
    The pasta dishes that came next were a little odd by comparison to the previous two dishes. They didnt display the exceptional flavour of the pizza and after the almost geometric precision of the tasting plate the way my parpadelle was almost… splotched into the corner of my plate was a little odd – regardless of the unpretentious nature of the food expected at a typical trattoria. During our chat, John Lanzafamme acknowledged a real love of the slow cook, unfortunately with my particular pasta, I feel that the slow cook, while resulting in lamb that quite literally melted in my mouth, also destroyed the amazing flavor that peas can deliver in simple pasta dishes and resulted in a dish that was bland at best – quite a bit below the standard of the two previous courses. I did try the other two pasta dishes and found them both to be a cut above this one with the rabbit ragout the standout, being really quite delicious.
    All in all John Lanzafamme delivers a good food experience, I would thoroughly recommend going there for a Saturday night pizza and with the high quality of the taster plate, I will be going back to try other dishes from the menu…but I’ll really be considering whether I hit the pasta.
    If you’d asked me to rate my experience after the pizza course I’d have said 4.5/5 but unfortunately the pasta course really did dampen the experience for me so I’m rating a 3/5 over all – solid without being wonderful – but have to admit that I’m fairly sure I’ll be heading back to sample other areas of the menu.
  7. Ellie Waterhouse
    Yum, what a fun night, was great to meet some new people and share some really incredible food. I was so full at the end of it. I was the one who had to take some home in a take away container, and I might just mention that it tasted even better the next day! or maybe I was having withdrawals haha. Thanks Ms Darlinghurst ur a star!
  8. Amy
    I was impressed with my first secret foodies experience. It was a great way to spend an evening, doing three of my favourite things; eating, drinking and chatting!
    As somebody who often gets ‘food envy’ it was great to be able to try out a wide range of dishes, and there was certainly more than enough to go round. Favourites had to be dthe pork belly pizza, the scallop on the tasting plate and the fettucini beef cheek ragu, which I wished I’d saved a bit more room for, the beef really was melt in the mouth.
    All washed down wiht a good red wine, yum :-)
  9. Craig Holland
    There is no doubt that the food was amazing as well as the ambience of the restaurant and the wonderful enthusiasm of Chef John Lanzafamme (thank you good man!)… but the real decider for me was the whole set up. Alex what a magnificent idea to come up with- it was truly an honour to be part of this whole experience and to have such wonderful people to share it with The overall opinion for me was an amazing experience that I will treasure 4EVA (dudes!)
    Foodies ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  10. Donna
    Pitty about the location as this end of Crown street just doesn’t get near as much love as just 5 minutes up the road. But I’m sure as the reviews go out this logistical weakness will fade.
    Pizza’s were amazing! When John mentioned he had won many a Pizza competition I wasn’t surprised. They are worth the visit. The dishes to follow were also good, but due to the fact a overate on the first course of Pizza nothing compared.
    Nice modern fit out.. good for a group of friends keen for some modern Italian.
  11. Long time foodie, first time Secret Foodies.
    The anticipation of where we were going almost killed me but then the food we ate sent me to heaven (oh ok bad pun).
    John’s idea and passion for food really shone through. That mixed with heritage and family recipes is what makes every dish.
    Everyone has basically said it so in short, the pizza – amazing. The tasting plates – divine. The pasta – is just the greatest. Leaving me to say… Mangia, godere e stai zitto!
    All in all the night was a winner. In fact so much so I left my credit card behind. Was it an accidental mistake or excuse to go back for breakfast the next day – who cares… Yum!!

    Great spot, great night, great fun.