You're unlikely to get authentic home-cooked Italian food unless your mama or papa is from the homeland. The rest of us have to do with an Aussified version. So it's a great thing that Sydney is overwhelmed with Italian restaurants. Is there a need for another? Serial restaurateur Mauro Marcucci certainly thinks so, adding the newly opened Baccomatto Osteria in Surry Hills to his oeuvre.
The man behind Mille Vini and Enopizzeria has fashioned a minimalistic place to find rustic food adjoining the traveler lodge-like Cambridge Hotel. Baccomatto, meaning "mad mouth" in Italian, isn't trying to be fancy pants fine dining, but a relaxed place to socialise. In doing so, with authentic regional dishes and sauces, it succeeds where other stuffier places fail, in good-natured service and a lack of omnipresent Buddha Bar ambient beats in the background.
The entrees are pretty small, with fried zucchini flowers ($4.50 each), fried mozzarella balls with an anchovy centre ($4.50) and rice balls with a ragu surprise in the middle ($4). Tasty but light. The bad boys come out with the mains – a ragu-like bombolotti in slow cooked tomato sauce with a scattershot of locally sourced bacon ($28) is again a tad small but delicious. The chargrilled spatchcock ($26) is spread-eagled on the plate and tender, although it needs an accompanying side dish. Try the roast potato with rosemary ($7).
The desserts by contrast are generous – a hazelnut freddo ($13) with cocoa and raspberry puree swirls, and the light sponge cake with a ricotta and dark chocolate belly are a bravado finish.
Relaxed but stylish, simple and subtle yet intricate, this "mad mouth" talks sense.