PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Simple dining tables and a small selection of homeland paraphernalia are all that adorn The Italian's fuss-free dining space. Here, it's home-style fare and friendly service that are the focus of the much-loved Bondi haunt, which attracts diners keen for authentic bolognese and veal scallopini.
Husband-and-wife duo Paul and Mary have married their Italian heritage with a savvy for local Aussie produce at their family-run diner. At first glance the space may seem basic, but it's this very no-frills attitude that has awarded The Italian such a loyal local following.
Paul heads up the busy kitchen, dishing out his mother's recipes. The selection of pastas are hand made on site, including gnocchi, veal ravioli and fettucine, which diners pair with a made-to-order sauce of choice – a favourite is the ‘bassaro' with imported Italian sausage, porcini mushrooms, fresh basil and sage, finished with a dash of cream. The suburb's namesake pizza – The Bondi – celebrates its tropical locale: a thin crust base topped with four cheeses, pineapple, brown mushrooms and parsley. Old-school scallopini is hard to go past, made using Northern Rivers milk-fed veal, while kids can tuck into a cotoletta – crunchy, breaded veal cutlets - just like Nonna makes them. Sicilian specialties also feature – try the regional version of fried arrancini risotto balls with veal mince, peas and mozzarella, or for sweet tooths the cannoli alongside an extra-strong espresso, served traditionally with a sweetened ricotta filling.
Visit The Italian not for cheesy foreign memorabilia or mass-produced, would-be Italian dishes – this is a restaurant where locals' opinions matter and warm service exudes the familiarity of real-life relatives.