Its safe to say Caffe Sicilia is a Surry Hills institution. Famed for it's old-school décor and traditional fare, it remains as popular with the disconcerting locals as the tourists sauntering down Crown Street. This year, the Caffe is heading in a bold new direction thanks to an alliance with the famed, three Michelin-star chef Heinz Beck, but regulars who covet the traditional menu needn’t be alarmed.
While Becks has collaborated with owner Phil Visalli to update the menu, the focus on classic Sicilian flavours and imaginative re-workings are still present, as is the joy of eating pasta without feeling like you need a forklift to hoist you out.
There’s a new fit out too, but the Caffe still transpires the essence of Italian dining onto Crown Street. And then there’s the entertaining performance of the cheeky waiters, who expertly flirt and flatter their way into our good graces.
First course and the Tasmanian Smoked Salmon Rosetta, and the Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare catch my eye. Luckily, there are two of us, which means we can try both. The balanced platings are almost too pretty to eat. But of course, we do, and agree the fresh, flavoursome salmon that seems to dissolve on first bite is divine.
Even though there are a head-spinning array of new Italian treats to sample, I still can’t go past my favourite – the Spaghetti with Lobster. The staff accommodates us by serving a sample of their exceptional house made pasta paired with a Black Squid Ink Taguolini with prawn and crab meat. The pasta dishes perfectly sum up what Caffe Sicilia does best - light versions of popular Italian dishes that aren’t too heavy, but don’t scrounge on flavour.
Next is the oven Baked Atlantic Salmon fillet served with fennel and orange salad, seared to perfection. Its filling and flavoursome, and it’s only now we decide to stop eating the endless servings of freshly made Italian bread - mindful of the fact we must leave some room for Sicilia’s famed desserts.
If it’s a sugar hit you’re after, then Sicilia’s sweet treats will scratch your itch. After much deliberation, and a fortifying coffee, we land on the Velrhona, Orange and Grand Marnier raspberries with Valrhona chocolate cream. If you’ve never had it, recall those moments when you devoured a spoonful of rich pudding mixture before it went in the oven, and have you have an idea of the decadence of this dessert.
If you’re in the mood to experience everything that is great about Italy – charming service, flavoursome food and atmosphere, Caffe Sicilia will deliver. We’ll be back, as much for the food as the waiters who left love hearts and smiley faces in our coffee.
For more information on Caffe Sicilia, visit http://www.caffesicilia.com.au