The Amalfi Coast comes to Sydney for summer by the pool.
Uccello, Merivale’s iconic poolside restaurant, is set to reopen this month – just in time for a Mediterranean-style summer by the pool. One of Australia’s brightest young chefs Nigel Ward is leading the restaurant’s renaissance, bringing the Amalfi Coast to Sydney.
The new menu takes its cues from the Italian coastline, predominantly and proudly supported by our incredible Australian produce. Making full use of the restaurant’s wood-fired oven and charcoal barbeque, Ward is harnessing old recipes and techniques he learnt from his travels throughout regional Italy to deliver a menu that is humble, restrained and true to its roots.
Guests can expect Burraduc Valley buffalo mozzarella, with violetta artichokes and Cantabrian anchovies; Cape Moreton scarlet prawns with native finger lime; spaghetti alla chitarra, vongole, chilli and bottarga; Ulladulla ruby snapper in cartoccio, served with mussels, fennel, salsa verde; and Melanda Park suckling pig with wine grapes and vino cotto.
At the heart of Ward’s cooking is a deep and humble appreciation for provenance. He is passionate about extracting every drop of flavour from an ingredient, approaching vegetables the same way he does meat – nose to tail, flower to root.
“I have traipsed the paddocks of Italy, from the south to the north, and have seen the weathered faces of paesani who toil day after day to provide produce for their neighbours,” says Ward. “I believe it is only appropriate that we minimise the amount thrown in the bin as a gesture of respect.”
This means working closely with small-scale farmers and producers who share his philosophy and have adopted principles that have existed for millennia. Ward will be heroing many NSW producers on the menu, often listing them by name to respect their contribution to the dish.
The drinks list features much-loved classics given Italian edge with provincial ingredients and produce, while the Italian-leaning wine list suits a multitude of palates – from light and fresh Catarratto and Grillo to the finest Brunello and Barolo, and great list of Provence Rosé (including 6L bottles). In support of our own backyard, there will also be a line-up of exciting local producers and iconic Australian wineries.
Uccello has stood proudly as a beacon of good times and great hospitality for over a decade. Now, with Ward’s deft hand and effortless restraint, the new experience manages to feel both nostalgic and fresh – a celebration of what we have missed most, with a reinvigorated energy needed to usher Sydney into a much-craved summer.
“We want people to eat, drink and be merry. Break bread over the table, laugh with friends until sundown and suck the marrow out of life. We’ve all missed that Mediterranean feeling – that moment when the world seems to stop and your worries disappear into the sea breeze. Let’s escape to the rooftop and forget about our woes for the afternoon,” says Ward.
Uccello will be led by an impressive front of house team including managers Carmen Tomasic (ex-Hemmesphere and sushi e) and Mathieu Mozziconacci (ex-Felix), and sommelier Fabio Pallottini (ex-Mr Wong and Automata). It is set to become an important training ground for new hospitality talent, with chefs from Merivale’s apprenticeship program joining Ward in the kitchen. Having learnt from culinary greats like Sean Moran (Sean’s Panaroma) and Logan Campbell (Lucio’s), Ward places great value on the teacher/apprentice relationship and is excited to pass on his knowledge of grassroots Italian to the next generation of Australian chefs.
“The kitchen is like a family tree and I am committed to passing down knowledge acquired from generation to generation. I think it is important to encourage experimentation in my kitchen – it was a liberty my teachers afforded me and one that I’ll always be grateful for. I just want to make beautiful food with like-minded people.”
Meanwhile, ivy PoolClub has undergone a refresh, with additional booths and seating transforming the celebrated oasis into a relaxed, al fresco dining experience. Around the pool, Vincenzo Biondini of Vinnie’s Pizza is delivering light Italian snacks like prosciutto and rockmelon, antipasto plates, wood-fired pizza, and insalate – perfect for long afternoons and balmy nights under the Sydney sky. Those really wanting to indulge can enjoy Uccello’s caviar service, poolside.
The carefully curated team of DJs and musicians in residence have also been working away on a musical revival of the stunning venue, transporting guests to Southern Italy with Mediterranean beach club vibes.
Opens late October
ivy, Level 4, 320 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Bookings now open
Images: Steven Woodburn