Verde Restaurant & Bar
115 Riley Street, East Sydney, NSW
02 9380 8877
As you might guess from the name, Verde Restaurant and Bar takes a classical approach to Italian dining, with traditional and authentic fare to be enjoyed with the family in elegant and stylish surrounds.
Located along Stanley Street, on the stretch of the city known as ‘Little Italy’ to the east of the CBD, Verde occupies the striking, century-old, heritage-listed ‘Italianate’ building. Owner, manager and Head Chef, Antonio Ruggerino, has lovingly restored it to former glories since 2007, when the venue opened to showcase his beloved Calabrian-style cooking and hospitality values.
As Antonio notes: “There is usually such a big difference between a home-cooked meal and one you purchase at a restaurant. We wanted to bring the two together: a taste of home, mixed with inner city dining.”
A sense of grandeur is evident in the elegant interiors, which are tastefully furnished and decorated with vintage posters and family photographs of days gone by. This perfectly complements the simple values of using fresh, local produce cooked in home-style recipes that have been passed down through the generations, and which are bursting with authentic flavours and wholesome goodness from Italy’s south.
Upstairs, the marble bar and lounge features a dining space for up to forty-five people and opulent private rooms, ideal for small gatherings of family, friends and colleagues, who want to do things in style. Most of the time you will see Antonio up to his elbows preparing food. He takes a very hands-on approach to the restaurant though, and is always attentive to the importance of heartfelt service, so he also makes the time to step out of the kitchen and greet his guests with a warm smile. Always busy, he even tries to find the time to pen a few thoughts of his own on his blog on the Verde website.
Back in the kitchen, Antonio places great importance on using as much home-grown produce as possible. His mother is responsible for tending the garden, where herbs, chillies and seasonal vegetables are grown.
A few of the menu dishes have featured continuously since the opening day, such as the Pan-fried Snapper with Saffron Pappardelle, peas, baby capers and butter sauce. Dishes are presented beautifully and, as well as the seafood favourites and a selection of pasta dishes, there are lamb, steak, duck and veal dishes to choose from on the small but well-designed and seasonal menu. Dessert buffs won’t be disappointed either.
Antonio has come a long way from the days of peering over the shoulders of his mother and father in the kitchen, watching them prepare food. As well as running his own restaurant he has represented Australia at the Berlin Culinary Olympics and graduated from the Italian Institute for Advanced Culinary and Pastry Arts.
“I’m a self-taught chef who has learnt how to cook from my family all over the world. Because of this, the restaurant is surrounded with old original photos of family. I always wanted a restaurant of my own and now it’s like a drug that keeps you wanting more,” he explained