As an Italian (and a southern-Italian too), it’s in my blood to be critical of my own culture’s food. But I have to say, Da Mario in Rosebery is difficult to fault. From the incredibly fresh and deliciously mouthwatering food, down to the friendly, attentive staff who offer a sigh of relief because they know not to hover, Da Mario is one of the few Italian joints in Sydney I’d actually recommend.
On the menu you’ll find all the usual suspects; antipasti, pizza, pastas. But the menu is far more developed with more than just the simple favourites, boasting dishes like authentic wood-fired pizza and grilled provolone cheese drizzled in honey and oregano ($15) to tagliatelle al ragu ($25) and beetroot and gorgonzola risotto ($24).
I went on a Sunday night, with a booking for 6pm and as I arrived the place was already busy with families and large groups having an early dinner. Once they were out an hour or so later, the second round of bookings arrived and the place was full, which is surprising for any restaurant on a Sunday evening, but a testament to the quality of food at Da Mario.
To start I chose from the specials board had the oven baked Tomino cheese wrapped in speck with pear chutney and crispy polenta. While the speck could have been crispier to add some crunch to the dish, the combination of Tomino, chutney and polenta was an unusually perfect match.
To follow was the margherita pizza with bresaola, wild rocket and parmesan ($26) which was undoubtedly one of the best pizzas I’ve had in Sydney, rivalling those at the Tramshed’s Dust, and even Newtown’s vegan pizzas at Gigi’s (another must-try – you won’t even realise there’s no cheese).
As one of Sydney’s leading pizzerias, Da Mario was the first, and is now one of 19 restaurants, in Australia to be part of Italy’s prestigious ‘Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana’ – a globally recognised organisation that aims to promote and protect the “true Napoletana pizza.” It it ensures each pizza is made in accordance with the international regulations, so can you can be certain you’re getting the authentic Italian experience with no variations.
“We are dedicated to serving authentic Italian dishes and true pizza Napoletana. We pride ourselves on sourcing the highest quality ingredients from producers both locally and abroad,” says owner Marcelo Cowdrill.
I had eyes on all the pasta dishes on the menu but opted for the tagliatelle with pork and veal ragu for something a little more hearty, and topped with fresh parmesan it instantly reminded me of a similar dish I had in Florence’s Piazza della Repubblica. The tomato base was rich in in flavour and only aided by the pork and veal, and the pasta was light, cooked almost al dente, which is exactly how I like it.
There isn’t much I can say about the beetroot and gorgonzola risotto ($24) other than it was the definite highlight. Wet, slightly crunchy, and bursting with absolute flavour – I cannot fault this dish. And the gorgonzola was a perfectly balance swirl so not to overpower the beetroot.
For salads Da Mario has three options, but I went for the radicchio with percorino, grapes and balsamic dressing ($12). The bitterness of the leaf and the sweetness of the balsamic helped to cut through the heaviness of meal.
The restaurant itself has an industrial feel with exposed brick walls, luscious green potted ferns hanging from the ceiling and a large deck area which is perfect for enjoying a late Sunday lunch or a quiet midweek dinner. But at the heart of this bistro style restaurant is their enormous three tonne red pizza oven imported from Naples which pumps out hundreds of pizzas each week.
Da Mario is exactly what us Sydneysiders have been craving – simple, no-fuss, authentic Italian dishes made with fresh ingredients that won’t leave you feeling sluggish. It’s easy to tell the team here care more about the quality of their food than just getting numbers through the door (which is something they’re doing anyway).
Any selection of dishes at Da Mario will satisfy you to the point where you won’t need to order any more – but trust me, you’ll want to.
36 Morley Ave, Rosebery, Sydney
Tues-Thur 5pm-9:30pm, Fri-Sun 12pm-3pm, 5pm-9:30pm
Have you entered our latest competition? You could win an $8,000 trip to Fiji. If you haven’t, don’t miss out and enter in your details here.