Sitting in the sunny corner pride-of-place spot where Bel & Brio once reigned, Bottega Coco is light and bright and ever so Italian. It’s also where I just ate the best ragu I’ve ever had, and I’ve been to Italy – just sayin’.
‘We opened two weeks ago’, says Jacob, the effervescent restaurant manager. “It’s hectic, but it’s going very well.’ And, it looks like it absolutely is. The red banquette seating is comfy and settle-on-in cosy, and pairs of people are engaged in conversation as they sip from wine glasses with generous pours. The menus are encased in fat leather binders, and after having a look in the massive wine cellar (I’ll get back to this), we sit to have a look at what’s on offer. Chef Pier Davide Maiuri has crafted a menu that’s decadent without being over the top; and although it’s truffle season (cue the hysteria), neither I nor my dining companion are much into them – am I fired now?
Fortunately, there are [many] other tempting nosh-worthy yummies, and we decide to order lots of things to share instead of committing to only one dish each, because why not? So many things look delicious, and I’m. Here. For. All. Of. It. After faffing around and deciding what to drink, we go with Jacob’s suggestions, Shiraz and Chardonnay – large pours, please, while we make up our minds on food.
We start with zuppa de patate e porri (leek and potato soup) because A. I could live on soup and B. It’s winter. Jacob nods his approval. We also order the mixed green leaf salad in the interest of, you know, being healthy, the housemade fig and ricotta Focaccia, the Pappardelle ragu, the Murluzzo alla Scapece (Glacier 51 Toothfish) AND the Magic Mushroom and Nutcase deserts – which are almost … almost… too gorgeous to cut into. We manage.
The pastry chef Vincent Gadar works wonders with the presentation of sweets and savouries at the front counter, and I dare you to walk in without buying a tart or a gilded cake pop or a whole damn croquembouche for the weekend. That wine cellar, though? Don’t leave without having a peek. The shelves are lined with bottles from far and wide; a selection to rival any mainstream bottle shop.
What I loved about this place what it’s down-to-earth atmosphere in a beautiful setting. It’s unpretentious, but the Italian food is some of the very best in Sydney. It’s honest and flavourful, simple with a complex flavour, and you won’t find a drowning-in-sauce limp noodle bowl of pasta anywhere. Lucky-duck Barangaroo’ians even get breakfast and lunch here, and my bet is it’s the best Benedict you’re likely to find nearby, though I can’t say for sure. You’ll let me know?
Hot tip: After dinner, step next door to sister space, Cardea, for speakeasy vibes, indulgent cocktails and live music. It’s sexy-sultry gorgeous.
Bottega Coco – Shop 1 T3.01/300 Barangaroo Ave, Barangaroo (02) 9262 1647 Hours: Sun – Weds 8:00 – 21:00, Thu – Sat 8:00 – 22:00