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Zafferano Trattoria Mediterranea

Over 50 years of Sicilian history emerge at this South Dowling Street trattoria.
By Ben Hansen
November 02, 2022
By Ben Hansen
November 02, 2022

Paddington's charming South Dowling Street trattoria Zafferano has a lot of history. It originally opened as a café in 2021, before relaunching as a spot for afternoon drinks, long weekend lunches and hearty Sicilian dinners — but its history stretches far beyond that. The venue acts as a spiritual sibling and tribute to Trattoria Francu U' Piscaturi, a seafood restaurant that Head Chef Simone Crivello's father has been operating out of Capo Zafferano in Sicily since the 1970s.

Crivello and his partner Isobel Galloway bring this long connection to Sicilian cuisine to the bustling Paddington street, offering diners a laidback slice of the Mediterranean within the hustle and bustle of Sydney's inner-city.

"South Dowling Street has no shortage of iconic brunch and lunch options, from South Dowling Sandwiches to Bootsdarling and the Organic Bread Bar," said Crivello. "Bella and I spend a lot of time talking to our diners, the one thing we kept hearing was how desperately the street needed a Trattoria, for lingering afternoon drinks, turned cheerful evenings with friends and food."

Crivello and Galloway have compiled a purposefully reserved and ever-changing menu based around Sicilian wine, staples from Capo Zadderano, fresh produce and minimal waste. The sfincione — Sicily's version of a pizza — emerges from the oven thick and fluffy, the pasta is topped with a mountain of parmesan and the risotto marinara is packed with mussels, clams, cuttlefish, prawns and crab. The latter is a recipe passed down from Francesco, Crivello's father, and has been on the menu at Trattoria Francu U' Piscaturi for 50 years.

The final touch of Sicily is through the fit-out, styled by Isobel's father — ex-fashion designer Stephen Galloway. The restaurant features a forest green and marble design, adorned with clay Testa di Moro heads, a signature of Sicily. And on the walls, you'll find photos from Trattoria Francu U' Piscaturi and from the town's best fishing spots.

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