PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
While Sydney is well acquainted with the notion of tapas (Spanish share plates), one restaurant on Leichhardt's Italian-dominated Norton Street is asking an important question: Why should Spaniards have all the fun? Aperitivo, which came into existence in July 2009, aims to introduce the local dining public to the notion of Italian "aperitivi" – share plates, Italian style. And my, my, what a delight it is! The menu comes in three parts – bar snacks (including oysters with champagne sabayon, meatballs in tomato sauce and arancini with herbs), apertivi (with flavour combinations like warm veal carpaccio in dijon mustard sauce on a bed of pickled horseradish and deep-fried ravioli filled with taleggio cheese on a pear and mint salad) and a list of seasonal mains which appear on the specials board. In a particularly delightful touch the menu also speaks fluent Italian – so instead of ordering roast potatoes with rosemary you'll need to ask for patate novelle al rosmarino.
The innovative slant of the menu is extended to the decor which is modern, breezy and ever-so-slightly kitschy. Shiny red chairs – which might have lived another life as red patent heels – sit next to dark wood tables and stare up at raw brick and pale wood walls. Light bulbs, some raw others in chic black globes, hang low to keep them company, along with high tables, stools and an oval bar. The latter is particularly worthy of a mention – Aperitivo, after all, is named after the drink which begins the meal. The bar lives up to its moniker with a wine list that travels from Australia and New Zealand to Italy, and an extensive list of aperitifs, liqueurs, spirits and digestives. To this mix Aperitivo also brings a small selection of cocktails – from the Venetian Bellini to the Cuban Mojito.