You know those moments when it’s so wrong it’s right? Wearing a red jacket with a pink top, eating a whole pack of Tim Tams with your tea or wearing your PJs all day because you must binge watch the next Netflix series? Yeah. You know what we mean.
When an awarded chef opens up his second Italian restaurant, there are many suburbs which would be screaming “pick me!” – Darlinghurst, Haberfield, Surry Hills, just to name a few. But this brand new hotspot has found a home in Chatswood.
Chef Eddie Leung likes to defy the rules. Brought up cooking from the age of 10, he understood Chinese food, but after working for top restaurants in Hong Kong (Jockey Club), Shangri-la hotels and The Grand Hyatt, he developed a skill for Western Food and a love of Italian. His first restaurant SPAGO, in Beverly Hills, won Savour Australia “Italian Restaurant of the Year”and went on to accumulate another 3 awards over the years, it’s surprising they had room to fit any customers.
Open to the street, SPAGO is fitted out in bold royal blue and mustard, with banquets, window seats, white chairs and wooden tables. There’s nothing to indicate the genius pasta maker, yet an expert eye will notice the detail – the colour-customised Black Eagle coffee roaster, a pasta guitar and chefs’ implements hanging in the window.
The pasta is what makes headlines (though at 1pm people are still ordering breakfast, hmmm we should come back!). Our recommendation is to hit the ‘signature pasta’ menu. All made in house every day, this is not your ordinary carbonara (no cream here). Delicate strings of pasta are entwined with toasted guanciale, caramelised onion and parmesan cheese with a single smoked egg yolk sitting on top like a crown. It’s the king of pastas. Saffron tagliolini is a stunner of a dish – golden pasta strands are decorated with jewels of avruga caviar and generous chunks of Queensland lobster, all in an intense lobster bisque. The king prawn tagliatelle is a powerhouse of rich Napoletana sauce with cherry tomatoes, prawn butter and juicy Queensland prawns. With all of these dishes under $30, its extraordinary value. If you decide to go to the main menu, it’s a fun pick n mix of your favourite pasta and sauce from pesto to Siciliana. In the evening you can go crazy with starters like truffle mushroom bruschetta, burrata with heirloom tomatoes or flash fried calamari perfect for dunking into squid ink aioli.
Sometimes breaking the norms creates something more memorable than being predictable. SPAGO shows us you can’t judge a book (or restaurant) by its cover – this is food is rich in complexity, flavour and skill despite its understated surrounds. So swap Chinese for carbonara and a new Chatswood experience.
316 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood
Mon – Fri: 7am-10pm
Sat – Sun: 8am-10pm