Woolloomooloo’s Italian gem, Puntino Trattoria.
There’s a lot to be said about a relaxed trattoria. Walk past the front window and you’ll spot chefs kneading pizza dough. Others are rolling out long sheets of freshly made pasta. Red and white checkered table clothes compliment a scattering of rustic chairs and terracotta tiles. It all reaffirms the notion that you’re dining somewhere distinctly Italian. With a never-ending string of glitzy new restaurants opening all across Sydney, it’s a refreshing change of pace arriving to the homely world of Puntino Trattoria. We exhale deeply, surrendering ourselves to it’s comforting embrace.
Situated at the sleepy end of Crown Street, Puntino Trattoria first opened its doors in 1996. Four years later, chef Antonio Sabia, more commonly known as Big Tony, made it his own. Tony’s boisterous personality and reputation for making some of Sydney’s best pizza and pasta meant that Puntino soon became a local favourite.
When you arrive, you’re promptly greeted by the friendly waitstaff. Start up a conversation though and you’ll realise that many of them only speak fragmented English. It feeds into the ‘authentically Italian’ feel of the place. Walk further inside and you’ll find plenty of seating options. There’s the main indoors downstairs area. Tucked behind the back area is a breezy courtyard. It’s a quaint little space with framed pictures of Tony’s loved ones hanging from the walls. A string of vibrant fake vine leaves travel up a small staircase to the mezzanine level.
Sip on a refreshing Aperol Spritz to awaken your palate ($12) before diving head first into the wine list. It’s predominately Italian, as you would hope. We order a bottle of the Terra Di Briganti Aglianico DOC Campania 2010 ($51). With each sip of this robust and fragrant red, you’re quickly transported to Italy’s fecund vineyards.
In an effort to sustain this fantasy, order the caprese classica. An Italian staple, this light salad is comprised of finely sliced tomato, thick hunks of buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil ($17). The Italians knew what they were doing with this one, pairing three quite humble ingredients together. The union of flavours is glorious, with a light drizzle of balsamic vinegar and olive oil tying everything together.
Scanning the menu, you can’t help but pause at the Mozzarella bar. On the menu are three distinct variations, including the Bufala Classica (delicate), Bufala affumicata (naturally smoked) and Burrata ($12 each). As if to subtly lure you down the right path, below this lies a list of dried meat pairings. Match your creamy burrata with the bresaola dried wagyu beef ($10). If that doesn’t take your fancy, perhaps 120gm of paper thin prosciutto crudo ($10), paired with a smoky mozzarella will.
It wouldn’t be a good trattoria without plenty of pasta on the menu. Thankfully, it’s everywhere – from their lengthy regular menu to the weekly specials board. For a simple yet utterly delicious marriage of flavours, opt for the fettuccine e ceci ($21). In a large bowl lies a delicately twirled mound of long flat pasta cooked with pieces of tomato, chick peas, chilli and garlic. We were at first a little skeptical about the addition of the chick peas, but they work well. There is also just enough heat from the chilli to turn your lips red and satisfyingly tingly.
There are few people who would say no to freshly made pasta, burnt butter and cheese. The Ravioli di mamma, made with creamy ricotta, parmesan Reggiano, tossed in butter and sage, allows you to give into this indulgent desire ($24).
The pizza menu is vast. You have over twenty varieties to choose from, with each creation slightly different from each other. It can be quite overwhelming. When you ask the waiter which pizza is the most popular, they’ll promptly retort “all of them”. You’re able to keep it simple with a margherita ($18) or dabble in more colloquially titled creations such as Swimming with the Fishes – a combination of calamari, prawns, mussels, tomato sauce and parsley ($26).
We stick to The ‘Puntino’ – a pizza that carries with it a certain superiority. It’s as if Tony said, “you know, this pizza is so good, let’s name it after the restaurant”. If that was his mindset, he was right. On a metal stand sits a rustic creation, topped with prosciutto crudo, mixed seasonal mushrooms with porcini mushrooms and shaved parmesan ($26). Drizzle generous spoonfuls of chilli oil over each of your slices for a welcomed kick.
On the dessert menu are your creature comforts, including a light flan and crowd pleasing Nutella pizza. We opt for the Italian doughnuts served with melted chocolate, whipped cream and fresh strawberries. The sugar dusted pillows of dough are light and fluffy. We’d swap the dark chocolate for Nutella next time if we could. The whipped cream feels a little daggy but maybe it’s just all part of the old world charm?
Puntino Trattoria is testament to the customers enduring love for the comforting dining experience. People aren’t there ‘to be seen’, but rather to eat well. This is evidenced in the large table of guests eating bowls of pasta silently on one end of the room. It’s in the couple sipping wine and sharing loving glances in between slices of pizza.
41 Crown Street, Woolloomooloo
02 9331 8566
Open for lunch Tue – Fri 12pm – 2.30pm and dinner Mon – Sun 5:30pm – 10.30pm
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