Otto looks back

April 2010

Yet another bar, this one a “pop-up” — ie, it’s only there until the middle of this month — has opened at Otto (Cowper Wharf Road Woolloomooloo, Ph 9368 7488) and is stuffed with antiques from Country Trader, so sip your 10 Cane Rum Spiced Apple Martini surrounded by gramophone horn lights and seated in a 44-gallon drum. If you will.

Viva Italia! I’ve had two terrific Italian meals in the past couple of weeks, one in the city, one in the country. First, regular readers of this column will know of my admiration for the food and service of the Cipri family, Carmelo and sometimes his mother Maria in the kitchen, and Joe and Anthony out front. In the January column I noted they were opening Cipri Italian (10 Elizabeth Street Paddington, Ph 9331 3333) in February. They were late, but it was worth waiting for. When the family ran Swordfish at South Sydney Juniors, my order was simple: “Bring food, bring wine.” Same deal here. We didn’t even look at the menu. It was their first night open (apart from a tryout with the extended family and friends the night before) and they didn’t put a foot wrong. One of the best things about the new joint is it doesn’t have leagues club carpet. Indeed, it’s a smart and stylish room without being over the top. Bravo.

And now Bannerman 42 (42 Bannerman Road Glenhaven, Ph 9899 5608). I’ve heard good things about what Sam Mammoliti and his family are doing at this place (our reviewer loved it), but this is the first time I had a chance to try it for myself. It was the end point of a Slow Food Sydney organised tour of farms and vineyards in the Hawkesbury, which is exactly why Sam and his Mother Giuseppina opened there, so he could gather the local produce. And that’s what’s on the menu. In the kitchen you’ll find Jonny Fontecchio, a young Sicilian chef who came here via London where he did a stint with Giorgio Locatelli. What’s he doing at Glenhaven? It’s exactly the kind of place he wants to cook at: country-style, relaxed home food using locally gathered produce. And what food! Here’s another place where you give the same order. Just ask them to give you their best shot. But make sure it includes Jonny’s Zia Maria cake. Here’s what I suggest: if Glenhaven is a bit off your beaten track, gather a bunch of friends, book a Sunday lunch and spend three or four hours over it. Bellissimo.

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