Piazza del Popolo is an impressive piazza in central Rome, surrounded by history. Popolo in Darlinghurst, on the other hand, is tucked into an unsuspecting little square behind the Lexus dealership. A smallish restaurant seating sixty, it manages to feel intimate but not-too-squishy at the same time.
They clearly operate on a simple-but-good philosophy here, and some deft hands in the kitchen know how to let the ingredients shine through without too much fuss and fanfare. The wood fired prawns for instance, were caressed by a combination of mint, parsely and capers, adding a nice freshness to the dish. The seafood on the Marinati seemed just out of the sea, and the creamy Buffalo mozzarella heightened by the surrounding sweet Summer tomatoes. The generous bowls of crusty bread, made in house, were reminiscent of what I’d have in my mother’s village.
Onto the mains and it was malloreddus (a Sicilian pasta) with a melt-in-the mouth suckling pig sauce. The spatchcock was touch overcooked but well seasoned, and the pizzas crusty. They are true to their Southern Italian roots here, not tampering too much with what’s on the plate.
Pricing I thought was very reasonable – come in on your own and relax at the bar with an Italian wine and a plate of pasta, or come with friends for a relaxed Sunday lunch. Either way, you won’t have a tremendous hole in your pocket. Service a little hit and miss – we waited quite a while on arrival for someone to approach – with some going for the moody Italian look, others friendly.
Popolo, 50 McLachlan Ave, Darlinghurst ph (02) 9361 6641