Italian Street Kitchen is the latest addition to the thriving Gasworks Precinct. That name might well sound familiar to you if you've spent much time in Sydney — owner Mauro Marcucci has two other venues down south, with the Newstead site the first for Queensland.
Step into the light, airy space and you're immediately greeted with a glass-walled open kitchen (which takes up much of one side of the venue) where a team of chefs, dressed to match in stripes, man the various stations. A round pizza oven commands pride of place next to a pasta bench, while delicate arancini are crumbed and fried next to hanging legs of prosciutto. The restaurant's vibrant atmosphere is established at once with the open cheer of the kitchen.
Try to snag a spot along the back wall, otherwise an outdoor table is perfect for people watching — but, really, anywhere is great. Grab an aperitif to warm up your palate for what's to come. The focus is, of course, on all things Italian, so your best bet would be to plump for the bitter perfection of a Negroni.
We'll get this out of the way now just so you know: the hardest part about your whole visit is going to be deciding what to eat. The antipasto selection is comprehensive, to say the least — you might kick off with pumpkin and provolone arancini ($4.50 each), fried gnocchi with truffle ($6.50), baked cheese with honey and oregano ($10) or Sicilian anchovies with garlic and chilli ($6.50). Or keep it simple with a shared salumi plate — the bresaola is rich, salty goodness — ($20) and marinated olives ($4).
Traditional spit-roasted meats like beef rump cap and lamb shoulder ($19.50 each) are mouth-meltingly tender, while oven-roasted pork belly ($19.50) is a Roman delight. And if the idea of visiting an Italian restaurant without eating copious amounts of both pizza and pasta horrifies you, fear not: Italian Street Kitchen's pizza and pasta game is strong.
For pasta you might choose the gnocchi, oven-baked and creamy ($16), the rigatoni amatriciana with pork cheek and a hint of chilli ($16.50), or go classic with spaghetti and meatballs ($16.50). Pizza could be the buffalo margherita ($15.50) or the funghi — with three cheeses and meaty Swiss brown mushrooms ($16) — among others. Once you've decided, take note of your table number and head up to the counter to order. Wondering if you've over (or under) ordered? No problems — the staff are only too happy to advise, and, hey, you can always come back for more. On the way back to your table be sure to stop off and refill your complimentary sparkling water at the self-serve station.
In what seems like the work of a moment, steaming dishes of pasta and thin, crisp pizza — cooked to perfection (each pizza spends precisely two minutes and 15 seconds in the rotating pizza oven) — arrive at your table and demands to be eaten at once. Oozy, cheesy and fresh, it is indeed food heaven. But how to slice? Wield the pair of scissors in your table caddy to make short work of divvying up the pizza. The scissors put you in charge of doling out exactly how much pie you're willing to tackle, and yes, "all of it" is a perfectly reasonable answer.
We know we probably say this a lot but truly, save yourself room for dessert. Italian Street Kitchen's tiramisu is neither too coffee-y or too creamy and is extremely hard to stop eating.
Italian Street Kitchen captures the modern vibrancy of casual Roman dining in partnership with the traditional simplicity of Italian cuisine. To that end, the pizza dough is made on-site and let rise for 48 hours, the pasta is made daily and air dried and the Napoli sauce? Yep, it's made right here. And yet, nothing on the menu comes in over $20 — which is pretty special, given the quality of the eats.