Darcy’s – a pillar of traditional Italian cuisine in Sydney

In a society of Twitter and Facebook addicts, it’s easy to forget about restaurants like Darcy’s. This Paddington institution swung open its doors in 1968 and continues to remain at the forefront of the Sydney dining scene today. An impressive feat in an uncertain time for the hospitality industry.

While many know of Darcy’s, standing proudly on the corner Hargrave and Elizabeth Street, this regal restaurant is not often frequented by our food-obsessed, hip youngsters. Too busy working through their lists of cafes/bars/restaurant from SMH guidebooks and standing in the queues of small bars in Bondi or concept cafes in the Inner West, the focus tends to be on quantity, not quality. In a society like this, loyalty is a forgotten-about commodity. Restaurants like Darcy’s, however, are all about loyalty. Loyalty to their staff, suppliers, producers and, of course, their customers. At the heart of Darcy’s is one man. Italian-born Attilio Marinangeli visited Australia over 40 years ago and never left.

The upstairs private function room

Stepping into Darcy’s is like stepping back in time. Elegant and intimate, the restaurant features dark wood fittings, gold patterned wallpaper and Norman Lindsay artworks. We are welcomed at the door by Attilio himself. Dressed in a dinner suit, complete with a bow-tie, Attilio is a true man of hospitality. Gracious and affable, Attilio flits about the restaurant, serving wine and food and, for those interested, sharing a story along the way.

The menu features traditional Italian favourites, with an emphasis on Central and Northern Italian flavours. For primi, we share beef carpaccio with parmesan and olive oil and a dish of grilled asparagus with burrata cheese that Atillio regularly has flown in from Italy. Simply presented, the quality of the produce speaks for itself. The special of the day, pork belly with a prune relish, is rich and luxurious – perfect for a chilly winter evening while a grilled fillet of John Dory is fresh and unpretentious. The desserts will ensure a memorable finish to your meal, and are well worth a kilojoule blow-out with classics such as crepe suzette, tiramisu and crème brûlée a highlight on the restaurant’s menu.

Off the special’s menu – seared scallops wrapped in crispy pancetta and served with avocado, lemon and mixed leaves

Darcy’s has not featured on Masterchef, nor has it ever offered a Groupon or Living Social deal. It has, however, hosted Britain’s longest serving prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, and been the desired destination for power lunches between socialites like horse-racing trainer Anthony Cummings and mining magnate Nathan Tinkler. It may tend to stray from the hospitality limelight but Darcy’s is one of Sydney’s most respected restaurants, establishing itself as a pillar of traditional Italian cuisine in Sydney. Now add that to your list.

Anna Lisle
Darcy's on Urbanspoon

Read more about Darcy’s here

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Filed under Darcy's, Paddington, Reviews

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