Saturday, 2 August 2014

Sagra evokes a celebration of Italian cuisine. Taking its name from the numerous local festivals occurring around regional Italy, this is a neighbourhood diner with a difference. Channelling the very best of Nonna's cooking, Sagra creates seasonal dishes with a menu that changes weekly. Chef owner Nigel Ward takes great pride in process, baking fresh bread in-house and doing their own whole-animal butchery (you might've seen those photos of him with a lamb slung rather awkwardly over his shoulders on the interwebs). As is often the case for me, this was just one of those small scale restaurants I've been busting to try.

Source: Luisa Brimble for Broadsheet Sydney

The vibe is pared back, minimalist and decidedly casual - it beckons you in for a light lunch or candlelit dinner. Sagra sits unassumingly in a corner block on Stanley Street, also home to iconic Bill & Toni's and Bar Reggio close-by. Sometimes when you can't be bothered to cook, you secretly want the comforts of a home-style dish, and Sagra fits the bill perfectly. It's a little Italian oasis for those who don't make it as far to Leichhardt, or Rome for that matter! It was probably a good sign we were sitting next to a couple of Italians animatedly chatting away!

Light and airy, this is the place to be for a sunny Sydney lunch, no? Source: Luisa Brimble for Broadsheet Sydney

The menu makes a whole lot of sense, making it's way up from antipasti, primi to secondi (and lets not forget dolce!). Mix and match as you please, they've also got daily specials. And on the first Wednesday of the month, they run regional 4-course dinners for the bargain basement price of $50 (rad). Italian staff run the floor, some with such thick accents that there was almost a language barrier at times (my bad). My only issue was the limited choices of wine by the glass. I would love more than 2 choices! Note that portion sizes are on the small side, so be prepared to add-on (liberally). 

Violetta artichokes, capers, parmesan & radish. This was a lovely palate cleansing salad with the perfect amount of tartness and crunch (and also I'm a huge fangirl of artichokes so it's an instant winner)

Fried mussels with a├»oli. A daily special; something a bit unusual, a bit different (in the words of Kath & Kim). Let's face it, most things that are deep fried taste good and these mussels were no exception

Pumpkin & goats curd ravioli, pinenuts & sage butter. A classic of the classic pasta dishes, this is a combination that has stood the test of time. The pumpkin filling was ridiculously creamy with super delicate pasta

Rabbit agnolotti with sage butter. On the meagre side but packing a punch, I couldn't get over how good the pasta itself silk! A rabbit ragu is the perfect pasta filling for the cooler months. A small but satisfying portion, the boys definitely need another dish to back this up!

Passionfruit meringue, a simple dessert with a good balance of sweet and tart thanks to the passionfruit

Lemon Tart, caramelised on top for sure this was a decent version although I found the custard filling a little on the thick side. I keep having flashbacks to Heston Blumenthal's lemon tart (which is rather unfortunate, for those guys)

On the food front, I think Sagra certainly delivers and with reasonable prices to boot. As diners I think what we look for is food that is tasty, and enhanced by the use of seasonal produce treated with respect. In this current bipolar hospitality industry, I do hope Sagra has the staying power because it's a little gem. 

Thanks for reading!
Sagra Restaurant on Urbanspoon



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