Nestled serenely between McLachlan Avenue and Neild Avenue in Rushcutters Bay, Popolo is an Italian restaurant with style. The contemporary interior with subdued lighting was certainly warm and welcoming on this winter morning.
I was greeted at the door by the maitre d’ waiting behind his stand. This I certainly wasn’t expecting as only a handful of establishments I’ve reviewed have offered this kind of service but I have no issue with enjoying a breakfast at a fine dining restaurant that also caters to the most important meal of the day.
But wait, there’s more… a French waiter of most excellent character and diction was with us almost immediately to take our order. I felt like a king being waited on and Popolo made me feel like I deserved it all!
The coffee preparation area and bar take up most of the centre of the restaurant. Towering above it are liqueurs, wines, champagnes and magnum bottles that again contribute to the notion that there’s something grand about this place.
Large cups of Genovese
coffee ($3.50) were shortly served to us hot and velvety smooth. The blend that Popolo are using was very enjoyable and thinking back I regret not ordering more!
Tea ($5) is also available in the form of all the usual suspects (English Breakfast, Earl Grey, peppermind, green, chai) as well as Cleopatra’s Champagne (chamomile flowers, lavender buds and rose petals).
Various bottled Italian beverages are available as well as caffe shekerato (shaken double espresso, $6).
If you’re after a sweet, light start, then the frutta ($11) is a salad of seasonal fruit, yoghurt and (missing from our dish this morning) strawberry mirepoix. Our salad contained a great combination of pink lady apple, kiwi, strawberry, pear, pineapple, melon and blueberry. Everything was fresh and in season as promised.
Bacon and spinaci
The strapazzate ($12) is quite a large serving of scrambled eggs topped with pecorino cheese and black pepper served on grilled sourdough.
The smooth eggs were prepared expertly and the stringy melted pecorino and pepper added some great flavour. The slightly charred sourdough was a great accompaniment but upon viewing the side dishes, my guest couldn’t resist. The spinachi ($5) is served as a small dish of sauteed spinach with pine nuts and sultanas. We found this to be a versatile side that tasted fantastic by itself as well as with our other dishes. The bacon ($5) is something that I recommend everyone order. Smoked bacon with truffle honey… holey smokes this was delicious! Normally a devout crisp bacon connoisseur, I was immediately converted to the idea of this particular smoky, sweet example being simply cooked and not too overdone. The texture was perfect for the slight sweetness.
Icchio di bue
Today’s special was occhio di bue ($15) which literally translates as ‘eye of the bull’. This baked eggs dish is based around a thick and rich tomato sauce with cheese, pancetta and two eggs. Served steaming hot, I enjoyed the seasoning and flavours on offer although I thought that it had been cooked slightly too long. I would have preferred it to have been taken out of the oven five minutes earlier and allowed to cook from the heat of the pan while it was being served.
The sourdough on the side ($6) was again delicious with the charring and melted butter.
Other dishes on offer include grano (almond milk poached wheat, orange blossom, cinnamon, apricot, mandarin sauce, toasted almond flakes, $13), rustico (sandwich with slow roasted pork shoulder, baby cos lettuce, lemon mayonnaise, $9), uova in camicia (poached eggs, house cured salmon, warm fennel tart, pistachio, red pepper salsa, $15) as well as Danesi (apricot and custard Danish, $4) or sfogliatelle ricce (traditional Napoli style ricotta filled pastry, $6).
For a taste of Italy with style, Popolo comes highly recommended. Not only will you savour the coffee and food but you’ll be treated like royalty.
Overall Rating: 18.5/25
Website: http://www.popolo.com.au/ and https://www.facebook.com/PopoloSydney
Phone: 9361 6641
Address: 50 McLachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay, 2011
Payment Options: Credit cards, EFTPOS, cash