Matteo Downtown – the Double Bay outpost’s cosmopolitan city cousin – offers the informality of a cafe but has the polish of a fine diner. This second instalment of the Matteo brand looks to the legacy of the great metropolitan restaurants of Rome, Florence and Milan for inspiration.
It feels sunny in the 600-square-metre restaurant despite the grey backdrop of high rises. A mural of 44 playful artworks by Sydney artist Daimon Downey is part of the reason. An open terrace with street-facing tables salutes the great piazzas of Rome.
Whether you're here for lunch or dinner, you’d be remiss not to order pizza. Executive chef Giovanni Astolfoni was personally trained by Angelo Lezzi, the creator of the Roman-style pie. Here they're made with minimal yeast and flour, and proved for up to 72 hours before being fired in one of two imported Italian woodfire ovens. The result is a light, crisp base that won’t weigh you down, with toppings such as margherita (fior di latte, basil and tomato) and suprema (fior di latte, provola, rosemary potatoes, sausage and mushrooms), for example.
And that’s a good thing, because there are plenty of other dishes to try: salumi, antipasti and contorni, and large protein-heavy mains like cotoletta Milanese and a 1.2 kilogram grain-fed rib eye.
Then there’s the pasta – all of it handmade; from the swirl of spaghetti topped with blue swimmer crab, chilli, basil and tarragon oil, to the bucatini carbonara. Those looking to blow their end-of-year bonus might like to go for the market-price lobster spaghetti for two.
The drinks list is, of course, Italian-focused. Choose from a lengthy selection of fun red or white Italo vinos. For cocktails, it's hard to look past a Negroni, and there are four variations on the menu. There’s also a tidy spritz selection, tough-to-find Italian spirits and small-batch aperitifs.
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