Bookings from: Bondi Monday October 18, Parramatta Wednesday October 20
If the moodboard on the site is something to pass by, CicciaBella is a place inspired by mortadella and fish scales, tongues and abs, sea foam, party dresses, lemon cheeks and buttocks. So just another Italian restaurant in Bondi then.
But does your Bondi Italian restaurant effortlessly swing between snacks, pasta, and wood-fired oven stuff? Does he pour wine with a natural meager from here and Bel Paese? Is it run by one of the smartest hotel groups in town, home to a kitchen run by one of Sydney’s top chefs and a team that combines common sense with beautiful uniforms? I did not mean it.
Well we could describe Totti, but Ciccia has his own thing. Replacement of pizza and porchetta Da Orazio, CicciaBella is Maurice Terzini and the Icebergs family’s answer to the way we want to eat all summer long. Lighter and healthier, he says, and geared towards snacking and sharing. The space has been reworked to be suller and more adult with concrete details, light boxes, and tie-dye fabric strips that make it feel like a fallout shelter from Rick Owens who just happens to have a exceptional children’s menu.
There’s also a ton of talent: Bella Brutta pizza maker Mitch Westwood is on the wood-fired oven; cocktails are by Matt Whiley from Scout; sommelier James Hird made the wine list; and in the kitchen there is Mitch Orr, the chef who made baloney sandwiches and #notitalian pasta hits at ACME in Rushcutters Bay.
These are the parts, it’s up to you to put them together. Start with antipasti, where the garlic fritta pizza (yes, the fried pizza) serves as the crisp base for a range of one-way snacks. Take the eggplant in sesame oil and temper it with a ball of whipped ricotta. Switch to the tuna crudo punch flipped with Calabrian pepper and liven it up with a plate of beans and edamame. This is a section for double dipping. If it is not for the clams cooked over a wood fire in a spicy tomato sauce, it will be the roasted bone marrow seasoned with garlic, lemon zest and parsley that will bring the osso buco back to basics. . Fritta pizza material for sure.
It is also matter to drink. You’ll do well with $ 9 house wines (to which you can add a plate of peaches for $ 5, as Bondi) or a variation of a Harvey Wallbanger made with orange wine and cream soda, but it is the wine list in plastic that requires attention. The grapes are dark, the vintages absent, the notes evocative. “Nigella Lawson’s voice like a white wine”, we read in the garganega of Veneto; “Oxidized, grandma’s liquor cabinet, almond, peach,” says the unfiltered, unfiltered trebbiano-malvasia blend ($ 12 a glass; much better than Grammie’s sherry).
Orr’s thing is simple ideas turned in new directions. You know puttanesca as a pasta sauce made from tomatoes, anchovies, olives and capers, but here it’s the filling for a perfectly medium pizzetta. Spring leaves and mustard gain strength over ricotta. The basics ? Soft without being dry, charred and quite elastic.
There are glimpses of seaweed and dashi in the pasta section, but simplicity reigns here too. Fettuccine mixed with kale pesto may land a little watery, but a ragged maltagliati in gravy with a braised rabbit stew and topped with toasted pistachios is masterful – sweet with a sip of vermouth, rich and without a hint of dryness. . No one really cooks rabbit, this dish asks why the hell not.
It’s a menu to discover in the form of snacks one week, pizzette and pasta the next, dishes the next. Whether it’s a salt and vinegar pork chop or a flank steak cooked to medium rare and gravy in reduced balsamic and thyme butter, these main dishes are concentrated and at a reasonable price.
Add desserts that emphasize ease and interest – grapefruit granita with Sichuan pepper meringue here; chocolate custard there; an affogato with amaro coffee – and CicciaBella is as appealing to locals as it is to families as it is to crowds. There might be some stuff we’ve seen before, but not all together and not like this.
Just another Bondi Italian restaurant? Not enough.