As winter continues on its merry way, there is plenty to do across Sydney that’ll keep you warm and full. From a banging new Italian joint to top spots to eat in the west and a celebration of 85 years of film, there’s no end of ways to entertain yourself this month. Here’s what I’ll be up to this month – and you can follow my travails here.

An Italian affair
One Broadsheet Sydney writer reckons the dirty gin Martini at new Redfern diner Fontana is the best she’s ever had. If that’s not enough to get you through Fontana’s doors and up its red-carpeted stairs, maybe the fact that it’s from the team behind super popular pop-up Don Peppino’s will. They’re making great use of the former Ron’s Upstairs space, plating up dishes from across Italy that aren’t as well-recognised Down Under as your lasagnes and cotolette. The ricotta is house-made, comes in slabs, and is the perfect foil to confit-garlic-studded focaccia, while the red-hot chickpea pasta from Don Peppino’s makes a triumphant return.

The best of the west
Sydney’s western suburbs finally got the recognition they and their diverse cultures are due when the film Here Out West premiered at Sydney Film Festival last year. The anthology of eight stories, by eight screenwriters from a range of backgrounds, was lauded for breaking down the stereotypes that so often plague the area. Now, the actors, writers and directors behind the film are continuing to fight the good fight, with 8 Nights Out West, an ABC docu-series that digs into a different cuisine and culture in each episode. Hosted by actor Arka Das, it follows the film’s collaborators to their favourite spots to eat, taking in Kurdish, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese and other cuisines. The series is now screening on ABC every night until August 14 – and we asked four of its guests to share their top picks for Lebanese, Bangladeshi, Filipino and Chilean food in Sydney. Watch the series on Iview.

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Light up
Hunter Candles owner Vianney Hunter distils the scent of Australia into candle form. And her brand’s new shopfront, on Newtown’s King Street, is the perfect space from which to select what version of Australia you want your home to smell like. The Saddle Leather – an evocative combination of mowed hay, saffron and leather – is a fan favourite, while the eucalyptus bark, grapefruit rind and olive leaf number conjures aromas of the Australian bush. You can even get your old vessels refilled with new wax, to save on glass wastage.

It’s only natural
Inspired by those Hunter scents to get into nature proper? A secret bushland reserve on the outskirts of Sydney is reopening to the public for the first time in two years – but because of its fragile ecosystem it’s only visitable for six weeks. At Muogamarra Nature Reserve you’ll have the chance to spot more than 900 plant species, keep an eye out for echidnas, black cockatoos and wedge-tail eagles, and make your way past waterfalls, convict-built roads and Aboriginal rock engravings. Bookings are essential, and there are four guided walks and one self-guided walk to choose from.

Japanese joy
Sydney just can’t get enough of Japanese dining – and who can blame us, when there’s so much delicious stuff to explore? Two newbies lighting up our lives and palates are very different propositions to one another: one’s a popular cafe that’s turning into a sultry izakaya when night falls, while the other is a sunshine-yellow diner focusing on one specific dish.

For years now, Edition Coffee Roasters has been seamlessly melding influences from Japan and Scandinavia, and brewing up fantastic coffee. Now, after dark at its Haymarket cafe, it’s fully leaning into the Japanese side of things, becoming an izakaya serving yakitori, soy-butter clams and crunchy fried chicken, and trading coffee for sake and Japanese whisky. It’s an ace use of its truly beautiful Japanese farmhouse-inspired space.

Over in Ultimo, Mikiko Terasaki, who owns new diner Omu, is doing her bit to introduce Sydneysiders to a beloved yoshoku (Western-inspired Japanese cuisine) dish: omurice. When she lost her job at the start of the pandemic, Terasaki spent her days perfecting the Japanese omelette-rice dish, and garnered legions of fans when she opened a roving market stall. At her permanent spot you can get the dish with a thick demi-glaze sauce, or topped with bolognaise, or spinach and mushroom cream, as well as other yoshoku dishes such as curry rice and naporitan (a tomato-based pasta). @omu_sydney

Last days
When Newtown diner Hartsyard opened 10 years ago under founding chef and owner Gregory Llewellyn, it was partly responsible for driving Sydney’s fried chicken obsession. But since current owners Jarrod Walsh and Dot Lee took over, it’s been quietly serving up some of the most beautiful food in Sydney, using Asian techniques and ingredients to highlight outstanding Australian produce. If you haven’t visited before, you don’t have long left – on August 29 it’ll have its final service in Newtown. But watch this space: Walsh and Lee are set to reopen in some (as yet unannounced) form in Chippendale. We can’t wait to see what they do next.

A silver screen celebration
The Ritz cinema in Randwick is celebrating its 85th year in the business we call show – and to mark the occasion it’s screening 85 films in 85 days, one from each year it’s been operating. This month spans the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, so you can expect flicks like the James Dean-led Rebel Without a Cause, Hitchcock’s psychological thriller Vertigo, Jean-Luc Godard’s pioneering Breathless and John Waters’s counterculture camp classic Pink Flamingos.