I remember the first time I spotted Caffé Sicilia and it’s not what you think.
I was flicking through a fashion editorial when I spotted the models leaning against the most beautiful black and white marbled bar, laden with fruit and rows of gold rim glasses whilst a couple of wisened chefs bustled in the background. It seemed intoxicatingly Italian with all the classic European stylings you’d expect: gold window lettering, black and white tiles, crisp white linen, marbled table tops, pressed steel ceilings, hanging lights and wooden wall paneling.
Complimentary marinated olives
Even in real life I’m entirely enamored with the fit out and as we sit down in the alfreso area and nibble on the complimentary olives, my eyes kept darting between the locals power walking past and the bakery station & bar area within.
Complimentary bread rolls + Warm 3 milks cheese: warm parcel of “3 milks” cheese dressed with truffle honey & walnuts (Normally $22)
A basket of round dinner rolls appeared, tucked snugly within the folds of a napkin; they were baked on site and surprisingly delightful, a nice change from the sourdough infatuation Sydney restaurants seem to have. The cheese parcel turned out to be one large wheel and whilst it was quite moreish, we struggled to finish.
Crudo of Tuna: yellow fin tuna dressed with lemon segments, Sicilian caper berries
& extra virgin olive oil (Normally $15)
‘Crudo’ is a simple Italian dish of raw fish, oil, salt and citrus, inspired by the fresh seafood caught from the Mediterranean.
Homemade Gnocchi Bug Meat:cooked with fresh Balmain bug meat, cherry tomato &
balanced with a hint of chilli & garlic (Normally $15)
Cathy’s entrée was light and simple so it was with great surprise when I was presented with mine. I had been looking forward to trying the new gnocchi and bug meat dish; I had envisaged it to be quite small and light so I was shocked when presented with a plated mound of red, white and green (how apt). This turned out to be my favourite dish of the night: the bite sized portions of Balmain bug and tumble of pillowy soft gnocchi stirred through with tomato and chilli was comfort on a plate and an entirely satisfying meal in itself.
Sweet & Sour Sicilian Rabbit slow cooked farmed rabbit poached with pine nuts and sultanas in a white wine & vinaigrette sauce (Normally $24)
Whilst the prospect of rabbit was intriguing I found this rustic dish to be too Wintry an affair for Summer dining.
Snapper “Acqua Pazza” with mussels, vongole & king prawns poached in a white wine, cherry tomato & parsley reduction (Normally $27)
Reverse meal size envy struck again when this time I was presented with my Snapper “Acqua Pazza”. The classic dish of fish in broth was presented on a mammoth platter with a generous wreath of shellfish surrounding the Snapper fillet.
Curiously, the menu at Caffe Sicilia stops at second course and despite being full I was lamenting not being able to finish off our meal on a sweet note. I needn’t have worried though, as we were soon presented with two small glasses of strawberry and pistachio Sicilian granita.
Complimentary Sicilian granita + Complimentary take away pastries
The texture of these little gems were more akin to gelati which was probably tailored to suite Sydney-siders’ tastes since Sicilians – the original inventors of granita – would protest that the ice should be much coarser though no one on our table was complaining (too busy scraping the glasses clean).
I saw a few tables gifted small parcels as they left and when we received ours we tore open a corner to peek inside and find two house made pastries awaiting to be devoured the next morning.
As I surely felt my stomach starting to high-five the bottom of my lung our waiter approached once again, this time with a cannoli and a moment later returned with a cheeky smile and an additional surprise: a bottle of home-made orange limoncello.
Perhaps rather ironically I underestimated the generosity of the Sicilians and was quite surprised at how liberal the servings turned out to be. In truth I was a little saddened that all the waiters had lost their beautifully tailored white dinner jackets in favour of a more relaxed look, but luckily none had lost that cheeky Italian humour.
CafféSicilia prevails in many ways to become a little slice of the old world planted anew on Crown street. The menu features a lot of traditional dishes as well as classic Sicilian fare, although the kitchen may still be trying to find its Sydney connection. The pastry station here produces some fantastic baked treats so if you’ve ever rushed past, take a moment to sit down for an espresso and ricotta baked doughnut or do as the Sicilians do and have an almond granita to go with your morning brioche.
Food in hand dined as a guest of Caffe Sicilia.
a. 628 Crown Street Surry Hills
t. 9699 8787