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When restaurateur Tonci Farac swings open the doors at Seta, his upmarket Italian restaurant on Barrack Street, he's going to need every inch of the glam dining room's marble and luxe Michael McCann fitout to attract diners because, in case you haven't noticed, Sydney is in the midst of an Italian restaurant boom.
"When I started work on this project two years ago there were seven major Italian restaurants [at the northern end of the Sydney CBD]," Farac says. "By the time we open Seta next month there'll be 16, 17 if you count the Italian going into Crown."
Farac reels off a list of restaurants that have opened in the CBD while his Italian eatery has been stalled on the launch pad, Bistecca, Toppi and Matteo Downtown just a few of them.
And there are more on the way. Good Food can reveal an Eataly-style venue will open next year near the Apple Store on George Street. Part supermarket, part takeaway pre-prepared food store, it will include pint-sized spaces offering eat-in fresh pasta and pasta.
Restaurateur Maurice Terzini has been negotiating on a site near Australia Square, where he wants to open an Italian kitchen and wine bar. One upmarket Sydney hotel is poised to announce it'll change direction and rebrand its signature restaurant Italian.
With Farac's Seta restaurant opening in November, Alessandro Pavoni's a'Mare will be hot on its heels with a December opening at Crown. The upmarket restaurant will also have a Italian sibling, Il Cafe.
And last week Sydney sandwich queen Marcella Nelson-Aebi threw open the doors on her latest venture, Calabria, on Abercrombie Lane. The Italian-themed sandwich shop might be full of exotic charcuterie and Italian cheeses, but early ordering hasn't been overly adventurous.
"The first few days all anyone wanted was schnitzel, lettuce, mayo, salami, cheese and tomato. Nothing else, except for pickles," Nelson-Aebi says.
There is clearly some way to go before Sydneysiders turn into fully fledged Italophiles, but be warned. It's coming.