Where: 50 McLachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay
Opening Hours: Tue - Sun 12 - 10.30pm, Sat & Sun 8am - 10.30pm
Phone: 02 9361 6641
The name Popolo translates as ‘people’, and it is clear that owners Flavio Carnevale and Fabio Dore created their restaurant with the patrons in mind.
Nestled between an apartment complex and a car dealership on busy McLachlan Avenue, it could be easy for Popolo to go unnoticed in a city with more Italian restaurants than you can poke a stick at. However, on closer inspection, the dimly lit modern interior reveals a welcoming space full of diners eager to try some of the best Southern Italian cuisine in Sydney.
Both owners are ex-Fratelli Paradiso staffers and retain from their previous employment the adage ‘first in, best dressed’. Only half the tables in the restaurant are reserved for bookings, leaving the rest available for walk-ins. For last minute diners, it’s advised to get in early – we arrived at 6pm and are lucky to be seated straight away.
Young suits line the central horseshoe-shaped bar and enjoy their solitary dinners inconspicuously while families are scattered amongst the early diners. The menu is peppered with regional Italian entrees such as traditional gnocchi or fregola, tiny pebbles of toasted pasta cooked with vongole and bottarga (cured fish roe). We also sample the wood fired sausages with broccoli and smoked scamorza as a shared entrée to start the night.
Popolo caters for all avenues of the Italian palate. Including a spread of pasta, aforementioned regional delicacies as well as calzone for the simple taste, the kitchen is superb. We enjoy a smattering of different flavours. The blue-eyed cod is exceptional, its herb crust trapping divine. The food is strong yet not too heavy, allowing for a lemon fraught desert to finish.
Suited for a group celebration over a Southern Italian feast or a solo excursion, Popolo is an insider tip for one of Sydney’s best Italians.
By Melissa King
Good For Groups: