In short: Traditional Italian home-style dishes, relaxed and vibrant atmosphere, great surrounding dining precinct to explore.
Marrying into the Italian culture means you must quickly learn your way around a plate of Nonna’s favourites from the motherland. Not being able to tell a tagliatelle from a pappardelle can find you with spaghetti on your face. So, when I pulled up a chair at Andiamo Trattoria Del Popolo, I was pretty sure I could tell if Nonna would approve.
I’m here with Coco & Vine team members Sonia and Sacha, as well as about fifty other food bloggers and Instagramers, with phones and forks primed to take in the delights of Andiamo in Chippendale. With owners and partners Joe, Valerie, and Pierre giving us the rundown on their slow cook philosophy of Italian classics, we settle in for a fun night of conversation and cucina creations. Buon Appetito!
The polpette launches us into the evening with a rich and hearty sauce that has Sonia reminiscing about Sunday mornings and a house full of aromas, as tomatoes slowly simmered in her Nonna’s kitchen. The meatballs are huge, moist, and authentically simple. Nothing over-complicating the quality here, and that’s the way it should be.
Cozze Bianco, or mussels in white sauce, add a splash of drama as they make their entrance. The mussels are tender, plump, and juicy, bathed in a cream sauce. The briny essence and piquant flavours peek out with eat bite, as the influence of the Mediterranean on Italian cuisine is undeniable.
Arancini are a staple at most Italian family get-togethers. These delightfully plump portions are bursting with the flavours of prosciutto and mozzarella, accented perfectly with a rich Napolitana sauce. How do you tell a chef that has reached the summit of arancini master? The proof is in that first bite, as the crispy, golden outer crust relents to a warm, cheesy centre that’s never dry. Summited!
In our many food escapades, we often come across a “sleeper” dish. A dish that you never expected to be so good. Tonight’s sleeper is the Spinaci e Ricotta Fritters. As a chaser to their Arancini big brother, the fritters are bundles of gorgonzola gusto. With the same crispy crust, they are a magical mixture of lightness and flavour.
Andiamo Trattoria Del Popolo in Chippendale is blessed with being one of a very few restaurants in Australia lucky enough to have a Giotto electric stone baked pizza oven at their disposal. The trio of pizzas it dispenses to our table are met with ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’, as they take centre stage in the throng of foodies. The three pillars of pizza prowess are the Pizza Alla Norma, Salsiccia, and the Pumpkin Gorgonzola. The double cooked eggplant and ricotta of the Pizza Alla Norma is decadent with its chunks of slightly smoky aubergine and silky ricotta.
The Pumpkin Gorgonzola is full of colour with the roasted pumpkin glistening atop its base of crispy crust and punchy cheese. The Salciccia, with its tangy and spicy Italian sausage combinations, is a favourite of the table and quickly disappears in a flurry of frantic hands.
Italian festa and no pasta? Never! The Spaghetti Marinara is a cornucopia of seafood delights. Calamari, tiger prawns, octopus, and mussels all mingling in a bold marinara base with accents of basil and chili, make this another nod to the sea.
Did someone say gnocchi? When gnocchi are done right, you know it! Andiamo nailed it with their Gnocchi Tartufi. No at all heavy, this rich melding of tender dumplings and truffled sautéed mushrooms in light cream sauce, is heaven on a fork (or spoon!).
How can there possibly be room for more? Oh wait. Here’s some! Just in time for the Tuscan Slow Roasted Lamb with roast potatoes. Marinated for 24 hours and then slow cooked to insanely tender perfection, this impressive display of an Aussie favourite, done with Italian flare, is a showstopper and topper all in one.
No more please! I can’t possibly eat another bite of this delicious food! Luckily, I have a secret stomach just for tiramisu. The Tiramisu di Casa is presented trio style with the homemade tiramisu flanked by Italian espresso and panna cotta gelato. With a touch of showmanship, the table falls silent as Sacha slowly pours the rich espresso across the plate and our taste buds dance with the flavours of this affogato and tiramisu union.
Andiamo Trattoria Del Popolo in Sydney’s Chippendale has struck the perfect note of a friendly and authentic Italian experience that draws those looking for something that’s a little step up from the market feel of Spice Alley, and yet, more relaxed than the likes of Kensington Street Social. It’s the perfect place to take friends, family, or work mates for honest food that definitely gets Nonna’s nod.
*Coco and Vine dined as guests of Zomato Australia and Andiamo Tratorria