Barzaari

Coffin Bay oysters with lountza (cured pork) and pickled parsley at Barzaari.
Coffin Bay oysters with lountza (cured pork) and pickled parsley at Barzaari.  

65 69 Addison Rd Marrickville, NSW 2204

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Features Accepts bookings, Licensed
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Chef Darryl Martin
Phone 02 9569 3161

If ever I open a restaurant, which won't happen because I don't have rocks in my head, I'd have just three elements on every plate. Great cooking is about reducing, not complicating. Steak, frites, salad. Pasta, guanciale, egg. Chicken, rice, broth. Pork belly, pickles, steamed bun. Chocolate, caramel, cream.

I'm pondering such things as I look at something very close to my perfect dish; pita bread, pork and lemon ($25). The pillowy, nigella-strewn, pita bread has been baked to order in a (real) wood-fired oven. The pork is sheftalia, four gorgeous caul-wrapped bundles of minced pork shoulder, and the lemon is, well, lemon.

We're in Marrickville at a new Cypriot-Australian restaurant that is as hot as that domed ironbark-burning oven. There's not a lot to eat in Addison Road – even the famed Coffee Alchemy is all coffee, no food – and host Andrew Jordanou is as busy turning people away as he is delivering vine leaf-wrapped swordfish and sandpit coffee to the mainly local crowd.

The go-to dish: sheftalia caul-wrapped sausage with lemon and pita.
The go-to dish: sheftalia caul-wrapped sausage with lemon and pita.  

The working side runs from a well-stocked bar to a hot coal grill, rotisserie and oven. It's all brand new, but there's a homeliness to the charmingly styled dining room that suggests it has been here 20 years, instead of 20 days.

Chef and co-owner Darryl Martin (Three Weeds, Quay, Omage) puts his oven to good use with plump, warm and lemony Coffin Bay oysters ($4.50 ea) topped with a fold of lountza (cured pork) and pickled parsley stalk; and with slow-cooked lamb shoulder with thribi, a Greek oregano-like herb, served with more oven-fresh pita ($38).

Another good threesome – loukaniko, grapes, silverbeet ($15) – sees this coarse-ground, crisp-skinned pork sausage, fragrant with red wine and orange peel, served with wilted greens and juicy grilled grapes (out of season, but for once I do not care), all bathed in winey, grapey juices. It works well with an earthy, meaty, 2014 Torbreck Philippou Barossa Grenache ($83), one of the priciest wines on an interestingly multicultural wine list, put together by Sydney sommelier, Dennis Roman.

The "charmingly styled" dining room feels like it's been here for years, instead of days.
The "charmingly styled" dining room feels like it's been here for years, instead of days. Photo: Dominic K Lorrimer

A cheffy reboot of tiropitakia ($14) presents as upright chimney stacks of brik pastry filled with feta and ricotta cream, decorated with dried and marinated caper leaves, mandarin and pine nuts. The simpler dishes – such as baby pumpkin stuffed with moghrabieh pearl couscous ($15) – are the strongest, and a few of the busier ones – stuffed zucchini with tomato rice ($18), for instance – could well be split up and offered as two smaller sides. 


There's also a bit too much going on with spit-roasted quail ($37), painted with pomegranate molasses; the plate strewn with sweetly garlicky toum, smoky swathes of eggplant, pickled red onion rings, fresh pomegranate and baby red-veined sorrel.

Dessert, however, is brilliantly single-minded – a coiled snake of lightly syrupy baklava ($20), all golden pastry, pistachios and walnuts with an excellent quince ice-cream as a bonus.

Baby pumpkin stuffed with moghrabieh pearl couscous is one of stronger dishes.
Baby pumpkin stuffed with moghrabieh pearl couscous is one of stronger dishes. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

There are a lot of good things going on here, but for me, it all boils down to just three great ingredients – the wood-fired oven, that lovely mix of Cypriot pride and Marrickville neighbourliness, and the pita bread. It's all you need, really.

Terry Durack is chief restaurant critic for The Sydney Morning Herald and senior reviewer for the Good Food Guide. This rating is based on the Good Food Guide scoring system.

THE LOWDOWN

Best bit: Anything from the wood-fired oven
Worst bit: Some dishes get too busy

Go-to Dish: Pita bread, pork and lemon ($25)