Salt Meats Cheese’s flagship restaurant brings Italian charm to Sydney.
Can you remember when fast food outlets and tacky souvenir stores predominated poor Circular Quay? Getting a decent bite to eat was near impossible. Then in swooped Gateway, transforming the shabby area into a buzzy foodie hub, the likes of Gelato Messina, Burger Project, Chat Thai plus others feeding hoards of hungry tourists and corporates. The latest exciting edition to the precinct is Italian providore Salt Meats Cheese.
Tucked away on level two of this shiny building, the Circular Quay restaurant is now the new flagship from the Salt Meats Cheese restaurant group. Here you’ll find Executive Chef Massimo Mele serving up modern interpretations of Italian classics at the site formally known as Popina Kitchen.
If you’ve dined at other SMC venues, you’ll quickly realise that the Circular Quay restaurant has a bespoke menu, influenced by the Italian food Mele grew up eating as a child.
On the one hand are comforting delights such as fried pizza served with house dip ($10) and potato croquettes oozing with smoked mozzarella and salami, begging to be dipped in the accompanying pepper aioli ($15). To appease the more health conscious, there’s also a range of fresh starters including our personal favourite, the tuna crostini, teamed with a tangy triptych of whipped goat’s curd, chilli and lemon ($19).
If that doesn’t get you salivating, no doubt the freshly made burrata with ox-heart tomatoes, white anchovies and sherry vinegar ($18) will.
When it comes to pasta you’ll find a short and snappy offering, including the likes of gnocchi served with flaked snapper, tomatoes, garlic and toasted breadcrumbs ($27) as well as mafaldine made with slow-cooked lamb shoulder, peas and pecorino ($26).
The pizza menu showcases simple, honest ingredients such as fresh tomato, cheese and a selection of deli meats. There’s no weird or whacky toppings here, reaffirming the fact that SMC isn’t trying to be something that it’s not.
The cocktail menu, as you would expect, oozes Italian with concoctions made with lashings of Campari, Aperol and Prosecco. Hello summer and the start of Aperol Spritz season! The wine list seesaws between local drops and imported Italian varieties, giving you plenty of choice depending on your propensity.
To finish off your meal, can you really say no to tiramisu? This distinctly Italian dessert comes in a tall glass which will no doubt have you scrapping out every last bit of cream and coffee soaked biscuits.
SMC Sydney cleverly welds together upmarket dining experience and casual eatery. Its sleek interior exudes plenty of Italian finesse, evidenced in the glitzy wine rack, marble-topped bar and giant pizza oven gleaming at the restaurant’s entrance. Head in for a quick lunch time Aperol Spritz and pizza, or stay for a long and lavish weeknight dinner with friends. Either way, you’ll be left exceptionally content and well fed.
Level 2, Gateway Sydney
1 Macquarie Place, Sydney, 02 9247 6446
Opening hours Monday – Friday: 12pm – late Saturday: 5pm – late Sunday: Closed