164 Barker St Randwick, NSW 2031
|Opening hours||Lunch daily noon-4pm; Dinner daily from 5.30pm|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Phone||02 8018 4236|
The new Baccomatto is just like the old Baccomatto. I'm sitting at the same Carrara marble bar drinking Menabrea on tap and chatting to co-owner Mauro Marcucci, while chef Valerio Boncompagni is cooking pasta in the kitchen. It's all exactly the same.
Except it's not. After eight years in Surry Hills, Baccomatto has transplanted itself (and its marble bar) into a sparkling new residential and retail development in Randwick called Newmarket, right between Ra Ra Ramen and Cali Press.
Already, the glass-walled dining room is pulling in the area's newly well-heeled citizenry (like, one mill for a one-bedroom apartment kind of well-heeled).
Seasoned Sydney restaurateur Marcucci (Pizze e Birra, Mille Vini, Enopizzeria) and business partner Michael Stevens are savvy operators, and their new site is a short walk from Randwick's future health and education campus and its estimated 17,000 employees.
Those workers will be able to whip out at lunchtime for a quick slab of pizza al taglio, and come back for dinner for aperitivi and Roman-inspired pasta.
The all-pervading Roman influence shows in the homely pleasures of suppli (crumbed croquettes with rice and a lovely Roman ragu inside, $4.50) and the much-loved pasta all'Amatriciana ($22), originating from the ancient town of Amatrice in the hills above Rome.
Thick strands of house-made bucatini are twirled with a dense tomatoey sauce flecked with crisp guanciale (pork cheek) and rich pecorino cheese.
The pasta has gumption; a good, physical chew with structure and character, and the cheese is integrated into the sauce, rather than being confetti on top.
In the same vein, cacio e pepe ($21) is lightly sauced and warmly peppery, coating more good, extruded al dente pasta. A velvety, intense Cesari Valpolicella Ripasso ($70) suddenly feels right at home.
Antipasti cover everything from fresh burrata ($10) to golf balls of polpette ($10 for two), although the meat is smoothly bland and could have been hotter.
Pizza is a must, especially given that a decent-sized slice costs about $8. Made with "tipo uno" stone-milled flour that gives it a light wholemeal character, and given plenty of time (72 hours) to rise, it's cut from metre-long slabs and finished in the oven to order; a very different pizza to the Neapolitan style.
Puttanesca is my fave; all crisp crust and salty, savoury topping of good tomato sugo, anchovy, olives and fresh basil ($8).
For a serious main course, porchetta is the go, with three slices of the rolled and roasted pork belly crisp of skin and tender of meat, with a lingering scent of rosemary, coming with wilted silverbeet for a hard-to-beat $25.
I'm sure the tiramisu is fine, but I like the simplicity and pastry skills of a simple wedge of ricotta and sour cherry crostata ($12), a torta made popular by the Boccione bakery in Rome's Jewish quarter.
At some point, two blokes wander in and put in an order for takeaway pizza from the front counter display. Anywhere else, they'd have to wait in the street like Deliveroo couriers, but not here. Instead, it's seats at the bar; glasses and jug brought, water poured.
Little things, but it's those little things at Baccomatto that turn eating into dining and a takeaway pizza into an emblem of Italian hospitality, no matter how small the spend. In other words, nothing has changed.
Vegetarian: 7 antipasti, 2 pasta, 3 pizze.
Drinks: Classic aperitivi at the bar, Italian beer on tap and a well-priced list of Italian varietals.
Go-to dish: Bucatini Amatriciana, $22.
Pro tip: Look out for daily specials from Monday to Wednesday such as pasta and vino for $25.