Capriccio launches a new slice of Italy from ex Tetsuya Chef

There is something about a fire which means home to different nations. Aussies love a barbie, Americans in the deep south smoke anything they can get their hands on and in Italy even the residents of Pompeii enjoyed the pleasures of wood fired ovens. We have seen fire heat up the top end of Sydney’s dining scene, yet we’ve not seen Italians harness the flame beyond pizza;  that is until Capriccio.

We know its not cool to name drop so forgive us, but there is a lot to get excited about here. Head Chef Nicole Bampton has had over 15 years with Tetsuya’s, Sepia and Italian legend Lucio’s. She’s also a truffle ambassador (as if things couldn’t get any better as we go into winter). The other half of the dynamic duo is Michele Rispoli, whose family hails from Positano. He brings hospitality and passion to the dining experience.

Leichhardt’s foodie flame may have diminished, but not here.  Downstairs the long sit up bar is overshadowed by a mighty wood fired oven that does everything but pizza. The walls are memories of Italy. Sculptures of lemons, murals of swirling octopus tentacles and upstairs the fun continues with white washed tables and a balcony.

Ruinite Prosecco is perfectly paired with prosciutto di parma accompanied by golden deep fried puffs of gnocco fritto. The arancini are cloned spheres of luscious sweet corn and salty pecorino, hardly needing the basil mayo. Creamy, rich duck liver pate with a sweet lick of sweet wine jelly is made in house, in fact everything is. Its soft, silky richness is balanced by black olive crisps. You’ll make friends with your dining neighbours, “Oooh what’s that?” (they had the hand stamped corzetti with Italian sausage). Be prepared for food envy, no matter what stage of dining.

Half roasted chicken with rocket and parmesan cream salad

Honey bugs with fiery nduja are roasted to perfection.  These micro sized bugs amp the sweetness scale and are rarely seen on menus. Two dishes steal the show; first it’s the ricotta and spinach ravioli. We’ve had it a million times, but not like this. It’s fine silky pasta edges are singed burnt butter brown; currants add richness, and crunchy hazelnuts deliver a fork full of perfection. No kitchen cooks a 2.2kg chicken these days. This one does. Its free range, brined, halved, wood fire roasted then served on a bed of ajo blanco, pumpkin and coriander salmoriglio. At $39 its a full flavoured handsome dish and unbelievable value when you add a La Sagrestana Sangiovese from Abruzzo.

Baked cheesecake

Deserts are good to share, so opt for a panna cotta or a velvety baked cheesecake.

Utopia is finding an acclaimed chef, working out of a kitchen in a forgotten dining suburb where the talents of the kitchen, staff and produce combine to create a dining trifecta. Capricco shares similarities with Pompeii  – a city of artisans, whose brilliance still dazzles us today. It’s a gem which took people time to discover, but then its worshiped.

159 Norton Street, Leichhardt 
Hours; Monday – Closed, Tuesday – Thursday 4pm – 10pm, Friday & Saturday 12pm – late , Sunday 12pm – 9pm

Whats On:
Tuesday  ‘We love our 
$20 Pasta & Wine

Wednesday  ‘Ladies Night’ 
1/2 price Wine, Beer & Cocktails. Ladies only!

Friday & Saturday ‘Happy Hour’
9pm – Midnight

Family Sunday’ –Kid’s eat Half Price

About the author

Karen’s corporate job back in the UK had included entertaining clients in some of the best restaurants. This ultimately sparked a curiosity 'Just how do they do that?' (she confesses she was brought up on meat and vegetables, so this was all very exciting). Currently a Mr & Mrs Smith 'Tastemaker', she’s flashpacked around the world, learning about wine, experiencing different cultures and cuisines and had a two- year love affair with it all. Originally from England, she finally settled in Australia and continues to be besotted by food, wine and travel preferring to focus on the luxury end of town (thread count does matter).


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