The Don Peppino's team has opened this Italian diner in the former digs of Ron's Upstairs, retaining all the charm from the space's previous occupant.
September 20, 2022
A beloved Redfern Street hideout for half a decade, Ron's Upstairs turned its fairy lights off for the last time in May 2022. Ron's called the space home for five years. When one door closes, however, another opens, and in place of Ron's is Fontana, an Italian diner that has revitalised the space above Itacate.
The vibrant new venue arrived just two months after the closure of Ron's, bringing the warm hospitality of its predecessors. Gone are the playful plastic vines and colourful wallpaper, while the red carpet and parquetry flooring from Ron's remains. New leather-clad booths are complimented by warm mahogany tones and just the right level of mood lighting. And, most importantly, the charm and homeliness of the space's previous occupant are still here in spades.
Fontana is the latest opening from Daniel Johnston, Harry Levy and Ivery Wawn, who have all worked together across Don Peppino's, Wilmer and Alfios. In the two years since Don Peppino's has closed, the trio were busy. Johnston and Wawn have been honing their craft at Alberto's and Cafe Paci respectively. Levy opened Porcine above P&V Paddington with Nick Hill and Matt Fitzgerald.
Johnston is in charge of the kitchen, creating an Italian-focused menu full of recognisable and nostalgic flavours. While Fontana's menu is ever-changing, expect to choose from a selection of share plates, a few choice pasta dishes and a couple of mains. Possible highlights include warm crunchy bread rolls with a layer of baked balsamic vinegar ($4), best ordered with the ricotta della casa ($15); or the creamy fettuccini verde ($26). The panne frito ($8) is another standout — fried bread complimented with a schmear of tomato paste and an anchovy. An array of specials also pop up each day, and as is tradition, gnocchi is added to the menu on Thursdays.
Accompanying Johnston's food is the drinks menu that has been led by Wawn. There are a handful of classic cocktails and a range of interesting and eclectic wines showcasing organic and biodynamic farming principles, rounding out the trio of musts for a topnotch Italian diner — good wine, good pasta and good service.