Level 1, Queen Victoria Building
455 George St, Sydney, NSW 2000
Tues, Wed, Sat: 11am – 4pm. Thurs, Fri: 11am – 9pm
(02) 9267 9959
Vanto shares the homely Italian experience in a sophisticated space.
It’s no surprise that Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building is quite ostentatious. It was built in the Victorian era, after all. But, tucked in the corner on the second floor is an Italian restaurant that doesn’t aim to be ostentatious. In fact, Vanto restaurant evokes a more casual and homely vibe, while still managing to fit in with the surrounding grandeur.
Inside, the teal-coloured feature wall showcases a collection of wine and a quirky arrangement of black and white pictures that connects to the sophistication of the Queen Victoria Building. As well as that, guests are instantly drawn to the gold-framed panoramic mirror on the opposite wall. But the atmosphere of Vanto is more of a cultured experience than a fashion statement.
Personally, it feels more like a humble cafe than a fancy restaurant. And that’s the beauty of it! In saying that, Vanto is the quintessential pit stop in such a fastidious arena, where you can easily bring yourself back to earth, away from all the pompousness.
The simplicity and homeliness of Vanto are also noted within the food. The flavours are rich and the textures are intriguing, but not overpowering. A sumptuous dining experience that wants you to feel at home.
Start your lunch with a touch of antipasto. We highly recommend the Fritturina Di Calamari ($18), which is covered with semolina rather than your typical plain flour, offering a lighter bite that doesn’t quell the tastebuds or stomach. A far cry from your usual fried calamari at other establishments, which can be rather filling.
For mains, we sampled both the Parma pizza (from $17) and the Pappardelle al Ragu ($26), both truly authentic Italian dishes created to be devoured thanks to their own vibrant personalities. Firstly, the Parma pizza is topped with prosciutto, button mushrooms, parmesan cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil. It’s earthy and delectable, cooked to perfection in a wood-fired oven – a must-have for any truffle-loving Sydneysider.
As for the Pappardelle al Ragu, it’s a blend of beef and pork, slow-cooked to help lift up the flavours and soften the textures. It is then laced with strips of parmesan cheese which helps balance the tang of the herbaceous sauce and the juiciness of the beef and pork.
Matched with an Australian pinot noir and our tastebuds were on a gastronomic journey like no other.
The Italian charm is also uplifted by Santino Agrillo, part-owner of Vanto, who acts as the maître d. As we pondered over the interesting chandeliers that hang above the dining room, Santino offered us an insight to them. They were called 85 Lamps, made in the Netherlands. And when they were first installed, he said, the lights were too bright for the room. So he opted for lower wattage bulbs, which helped soften the overarching casual mood of the place.
At Vanto, you’re not beholden to fastidious etiquette. It’s a cool and collected place, surrounded by sophistication and homeliness, right down to the waitstaff who use mobile phones to take down orders. In fact, while the service is impeccable, it’s not overbearing. You are left to marinate in your own thoughts, soaking up the flavours and feelings that make Vanto so divinely decadent and yet simultaneously airy.
Looking for more Italian to sample? Check out our personally selected list of the 10 best Italian restaurants of 2020 in Sydney. And, before you head out, if you want tips on how to drink wine, check our wine etiquette tips!