What a treat the north shore has been served. No longer must local Mediterranean enthusiasts trek to the inner west for fabulous Italian fare. Serving simple pizza and pasta, with a focus on well-balanced flavours and quality ingredients, the Italian feels like the village trattoria you have in your Italy-inspired dreams.
Behind the French door glass façade, the Italian's dining room is cosily-lit and charming, with glossy marble benchtops and mismatched enamel lights. Co-owner and maître d', Adam, is ever accommodating, and the staff only too keen to guide you through the region-specific menu. The Italian, with its rough-hewn tables and bustling open kitchen, is a place of hearth and heart. Then there's the really tasty food.
The Italian takes food seriously. This place dishes up a menu that boasts tradition and elegance; the Italian offers simplicity in flavour and a heartwarming homeliness. The pastas are named after their region of origin, and the Puglia is a tangle of little shell pasta with broccoli, anchovies, chilli and olive oil ($16). It is fresh and fragrant; the tender pasta zings with chilli and saltiness, and a scattering of crunchy breadcrumbs provide textural contrast to the tender broccoli.
The place is a pasta lover's dream, and you simply can't go past the Umbria spaghetti con ragu ($23). Made fresh with locally sourced wheat, the spaghetti has an earthy wholemeal-like tang, and the pork and veal ragu it is folded into is swoon-worthy. But remember to leave room for pizza. Wood fired to order, the Italian's pizzas are smokey and slim with minimal toppings. Those who love a white pizza rejoice because there are several tomatoless options, like the potato, roast garlic and rosemary pizza ($19).
Flip the menu over for a clever wine guide to Italy's regional wines and choose a bottle from the extensive wine list. The house white and red are served by the glass ($6), 500ml carafe ($16) or one litre carafe ($28). The staff are well-versed on their long list of liquors and will suggest the best match to your taste.
A food-focused team make this suburban gem zing and the result is an authentic Italian experience with a distinctly local focus.