If you like pasta, you'll love Bar Machiavelli. The menu is all about pasta with a fork-twirling bonanza of at least nine different pastas on the menu, all made in-house. Spaghetti? Pappardelle? Gnocchetti? Tagliatelle? It's all here, plus a changing ravioli of the day.
Co-owner Paola Toppi (of Machiavelli Restaurant and Sciue Sciue in Double Bay) has proclaimed it as a "pastaria" that focuses on homemade pasta as well as antipasto.
Over-sized etchings on the dining room wall
Bar Machiavelli is the third tenant to take up residence on the site after remarkably short-lived stints by 10 Nield Avenue and then Rushcutters. Popolo is actually located behind the restaurant, on McLachlan Avenue.
The cavernous 160-seater dining room is a throwback to its former life as a tyre factory. Exposed bricks and a view of the soaring rooftop give a grand sense of scale. The giant walls of this Heritage-listed building provide the ideal backdrop for a show reel of Hollywood movie scene projections. An over-sized etching on the kitchen wall frames a view of the pass. At times it feels like you're dining in an outdoor movie theatre.
The dining room is a full house on a Wednesday night with a noticeably older crowd, presumably loyal customers from Restaurant Machiavelli.
Complimentary bread rolls
Macario retro chinotto
The cocktail list is the alcoholic playground for drinks master Matteo Bekleziz (ex-The Barber Shop, Rockpool Bar & Grill and Palmer & Co) who has designed a barrel-aged negroni and grappa cocktail, a tiramisu martini and will be offering a changing Bellini flavour every month. I'm still in cold-recovery mode when we dine and stick with the non-alcoholic chinotto - tick to the classic retro packaging.
Calamari fritti $24
There are six antipasto options to choose from but we skip the cured meats, insalate caprese and tuna tartare in favour of deep fried calamari.
Homemade tartare sauce
The tumble of deep fried calamari is impressively tender, best anointed with fresh lemon juice and a generous dunk into the zingy homemade tartare sauce.
Radicchio and fennel salad $12
We also order a responsible serve of vitamins with the radicchio and fennel salad, a small mountain of bitter leaves and anise-scented crunch that seems to go on forever (even between the four of us we can't finish it).
Tagliatelle boscaiola with button mushrooms, parmesan and cream $28
There are three secondi available when we dine (oven-roasted spatchcock, pan-fried scotch fillet and crumbed King George whiting $36-$39) but we are all about the pasta tonight.
Tagliatelle boscaiola is a celebration of carbs-and-cream, slippery strands of pasta hiding a forest of finely shaved mushrooms. My only quibble was the expectation of bacon even though this wasn't listed on the menu description. I did think this was missing a salty hit.
Each pasta appears to come in two variations: one cream-based and one tomato-based. We ended up serendipitously/deliberately choosing all cream options. The other tagliatelle option was Bolognese.
Gnocchetti di patate with gorgonzola dolce and a creamy sage sauce $28
We choose the potato gnocchetti with gorgonzola over the Napoletana version. These little pillows of potato pasta are soft and fluffy although there aren't many noticeable ridges on these mini gnocchi shapes. The gorgonzola dolce is mild enough for most blue cheese averse diners, and although I was secretly hoping for a stronger blue cheese kick, it does mean the dish doesn't overwhelm your palate.
Chestnut pappardelle with a porcini and madeira sauce $34
But my standout highlight of the night has to be the chestnut pappardelle. It's an easy choice over the pappardelle with duck ragout. Silky wide ribbons of chestnut flour pappardelle are a sexy carriage for the incredibly fragrant porcini and madeira sauce. The sweet nuttiness of the pasta works so well with the intense mushroom sauce.
I'd return for this dish alone. And I'd eat it all by myself.
We finish with the tiramisu, not the hefty wedge carved from a rustic trayload that I'd hoped for, but assembled in a glass. The top portion is delicious but the bottom layer of savoiardi fingers are dry and insufficiently soaked with coffee.
Creme brulee $15
The creme brulee is textbook perfect though, served with a bonus scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Inside the creme brulee
We crack apart the thin rink of toffee to reveal a quivering decadence of rich and smooth custard. It's a satisfying finish to our evening.
The enormity of the dining room makes this a good option for couples or large groups, as sound dissipation means conversations can still be heard without the need to shout. Service was a little distracted when we visited, including protracted difficulty getting the attention of waitstaff, but its strong and diverse pasta menu is what would bring me back. I'd be hitting the cocktails next time too.
10 Neild Avenue, Rushcutters Bay, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9357 7750
Monday to Friday 6pm-11pm (bar open til 12am)
Saturday 5pm-11pm (bar open til 12am)
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5/11/2016 01:22:00 am