Wednesday, March 04, 2015


February 19, 2015

Cindy's been working more or less non-stop since before Christmas so when I had a work-related reason to visit Sydney for a few days, we decided to sneak in a lazy long weekend, combining some Sydney-time with a trip out to the Blue Mountains. On our first night in town together we put ourselves in the hands of some friends who know Sydney's food scene a lot better than we do. We wanted something veg-friendly, a bit special, but not ludicrously expensive. The came up with Alfio's - a restaurant in the back streets of Leichhardt, run by notorious Sydney food hipsters who specialise in inventive pop-up dining. Score one for local knowledge.

The setting for Alfio's is an old Italian restaurant that closed down a few years ago and has been reclaimed for however long Alfio's runs for. It's a classic trattoria vibe - right down to the murals on the wall. Alfio's only opens Thursday-Saturday each week and the menu changes every day - a shifting mix of 5 or so courses, based on whatever ingredients the crew have rustled up from their various local suppliers. They're happy to cater for vegos, but I think vegans or coeliacs would have a tough time of it. It's cash only, BYO (no corkage) and heaving with people - you'd be well advised to book ahead.

First up was this mixed plate of grilled veggies, olives and pickles. We picked happily at it while enjoying the excellent wine that our friends supplied.

Then came this combination of fresh figs, chives, dill, mint and parsley with goats curd and a fig balsamic vinegar.

This was probably the dish where the seasonal, fresh produce ethos of Alfio's shone through the most impressively - the figs were sublime, and were perfectly accompanied by the creamy cheese and fresh herbs. 

Next up: grilled smoky eggplant with lemon juice, garlic and herbs, served with sourdough that had been smeared with more garlic.

We all politely shared out equal portions of this, but inside I assume everyone had the same urge that I did: to just grab the plate and shovel all of this into my mouth. Somehow we all resisted.

Perhaps seeing that civilisation was about to crumble, the restaurant served up individual plates for our next dish: freshly made ravioli filled with ricotta and served with cherry tomatoes, peas, basil and olive oil. Simple, but effective.

The final savoury course was roast broccoli with white beans, hazelnuts and a generous amount of grated parmigiana cheese.

Again, this isn't an overly complicated dish, but the ingredients and execution were just spot on. There are a couple of shared plates in the background here as well - a pepper ratatouille and a sugar snap pea and almond combo, both of which hit the spot nicely.

The final course was dessert: some lightly poached peaches with a rosemary cookie crumble and ricotta panacotta.

This was a stunner - up there with the figs for best dish of the night.

Alfio's is a very impressive undertaking - for $50 a head you get an amazingly generous meal, loaded up with ingredients that burst with flavour, combined thoughtfully and prepared perfectly. There only real downside is the noise - the place is popular and not designed with acoustics in mind, so you'll find yourself yelling most of the night. That grumble aside, Alfio's promises a fun and affordable night of great food - get in before they wind it up and move on to the next project.


the unbearable lightness of being hungry, Dear Asparagus and Does My Bomb Look Big in This? all have rave reviews for Alfio's.
71 Renwick St, Leichhardt
02 9560 2447
menu changes daily - $50 for 4+ courses

Accessibility: There's a step up on entry into a dimly lit, fairly crowded interior. It's full table service. The toilets were gendered and narrow.


  1. I've been here twice in the past few months & love how it changes daily - and the food is always spot on .. simply done but the produce is so good :)

    1. Hi Hannah - yes, the fresh figs and cheese were highlights for me!