To completely recognize the credentials and crossovers of the staff guiding Redfern’s most recent cafe, Fontana, you would need a conspiracy board and some string. Owners Daniel Johnston, Ivey Wawn, and Harry Levy have all attained their stripes, and crossed paths, operating in some of Sydney’s most arresting restaurants of the previous 10 years.
The three owners are most effective acknowledged for Don Peppino’s (the non permanent diner in the old matriarch of Sydney venues, the Grand Pacific Blue Area in Paddington) and, just before that, Italian pop-ups Wilmer and Alfio’s. When Don Peppino’s closed, Johnston turned head chef at Alberto’s Lounge, Wawn seemed soon after wine at Cafe Paci, and Levy opened Porcine in Paddington with Nik Hill and Matt Fitzgerald. Wawn and Johnston, and much of their team, cut their enamel at Italian wine bar Vini in Surry Hills, which has because shut.
“We are all pals who have been together for so extensive,” Wawn tells Broadsheet. “Dan and Harry were being often likely to open a little something after Don’s shut. Dan had in fact fallen in enjoy with this house [the former Ron’s Upstairs on Redfern Street] when he to start with noticed it 5 a long time ago, so when we bought the phone that it was readily available once again we realized it was meant to be.”
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It’s been all fingers on deck as the crew prepare to start their to start with long lasting venue. The purple-carpet welcome is an inheritance from Ron’s – Fontana has saved the carpeted staircase and built it sing by wrapping the surrounding walls and ceiling in a lively mural painted by Wawn’s sister, Claudia Wawn. Danny Guthrie, who worked with the workforce at Don Peppino’s is in the kitchen area, and sharing management duties with Wawn is Eglé Januškevičius (Cafe Paci, Cornersmith). The restaurant labored with structure studio Oko Olo on the interiors. The tables have come from Vini through Don’s, and several of the chairs are upcycled from Arthur in Surry Hills. Chanel Tobler, the artist whose operates dangle on the walls, also worked at Don Peppino’s – it is like a (extremely superior-wanting) Frankenstein’s monster made up of Sydney hospo sections.
An impression of what the cafe would search like, drawn by Wawn’s good friend Celeste Stein, sits inside of the menu sleeves (also inherited from Ron’s). The intricate illustration is a fantastic place to rest your eyes as you nurse a Martini and hold out for your supper day. Speaking of Martinis, the soiled gin Martini hits all the right spots. Two plump gordal olives make it a savoury balm, as substantially an entree as it is a consume.
The menu is a love letter to regional Italian delicacies and has a basic Italian layout. “He enjoys pasta, and has a deep background of engaging with Italian cooking,” Wawn says of Johnston, who is also her lifetime companion. “Think a Mediterranean holiday, imagine precise regional dishes, believe develop-targeted, element-oriented simplicity, mash it collectively and you could possibly end up someplace in close proximity to the choices at Fontana.”
The artichoke alla giudia is a classic starting up stage: deep-fried full artichoke with frizzled leaves and a meaty coronary heart. Though developing the menu Johnston obsessed around his ricotta, which he sets with vegetable rennet. The creamy slab is effective a treat along with a evening meal roll with a darkly caramelised cap of balsamic vinegar, or the dwelling-designed focaccia, which is baked in a forged-iron pan and studded with confit garlic. It’s best to preserve some of that bread to dunk in the tomato sugo that handles a wild ride of polpette di sarde – a plate of sardine “meatballs” with currants and pine nuts.
There are 3 pastas: a lively moss-environmentally friendly fettuccine verde paccheri (a broad tube pasta) served with a prosperous kangaroo ragu and ceci e tria, a chickpea pasta that has grow to be a signature for the team. 1st served at Wilmer, it was influenced by a dish the two Johnston ate in the southern Italian city of Lecce and could not quit pondering about.
“We also had it on the menu at Don’s, and below it is once more. Individuals have occur to know us for this dish,” claims Wawn.
Sebadas, fried Sardinian sweets, are filled with ricotta and pecorino and topped with honey and fennel seeds. And although a pistachio gelato might sound straightforward, it will be the dessert you come back again for. Filter coffee from Mecca, or a tiny nocino (walnut liqueur), and a variety of biscotti are a basic conclusion to the food.
The modest wine list is a beautifully curated assortment of normal drops from around the planet. Relatively than acquiring a residence wine, Wawn has ensured the record captures a pleasant pricepoint in each individual color. There are four by the glass in white and pink, and one particular every single of glowing, pink and orange.
“I’ve included some bits and bobs for beginning and ending a food to motivate individuals to feel further than what they typically purchase,” says Wawn. “While we do have amaro, it’s not on the menu. Individuals by now know amaro. What they do not know is this wild quince liqueur, or a Pedro Ximenez ending sherry. No a single ever picks an Armagnac but it’s awesome.”
The team have also been fast paced searching to the potential by squirrelling unique bottles absent in their burgeoning cellar.
“All our other venues have been shorter phrase,” she says. “This is below to keep. It is our first good residence.”
133A Redfern Avenue, Redfern
Wed to Fri 5.30pm–midnight
Sat midday–4pm, 5.30pm–midnight