Surry Hills and The Godfather aren’t the most synonymous bedmates, but in the short time that Caffé Sicilia has been open, this Crown Street spot certainly seems to have attracted quite a – well – faithful mob. Hunched over pastries or coffees, Italian conversations in full flow, old and young alike are flocking to this new chameleon bar/restaurant/café at all hours of the day.
Come Sunday breakfast, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a table unless you have inside links – maybe a consigliere, but more likely the ristoratore – as locals put shared plates under the watchful gaze of an army of handsome Sicilian waiters. Channeling old-world Sicily – from yards of Italian marble along the counter bar to the checkered floor and low overhead lighting – this is a place to watch and be watched, admire passing talent, drink espressos and indulge in some gossiping.
Like any good Sicilian family table, the food is all about rustic, humble ingredients elevated to toothsome Sydney-worthiness. There’s plenty of eggplant, ricotta, calamari and tomatoes, washed down by a range of both Italian and closer-to-home wines.
Start a long lunch with antipasti – say fresh buffalo ricotta on a bed of caponata melanzane, or baked pumpkin with mortadella and mostarda – before moving on to a pasta course or secondi. A veal involtini is stuffed with breadcrumbs and garlic and is ideal to share; a salad of rocket, goats’ cheese and orange is a welcome foil to the olive oil-edged richness.
By the time you’ve finished the last crumb of sweet cassata, you’ll feel like part of la famiglia.
Where: 628 Crown St, Surry Hills
Phone: (02) 9699 8787
Hours: 7am-midnight, Mon-Sun
Or read my review over at Agenda.