Celebrated hospitality couple Kerrie and Con Dedes (Dedes Waterfront Group), and executive chef Danny Russo (The Russolini Group) have teamed up to open modern Italian restaurant, Sala. Located in the historic Flying Fish site at the end of Jones Bay Wharf, Sala will open on November 25 and offer the best of Australian seafood in unique Italian dishes.
Co-owner Con Dedes said: “The evolution of the site on Jones Bay Wharf has been very exciting for me to be part of. Maintaining the strong seafood elements from Flying Fish and evolving into a modern Italian restaurant seems very fitting of the harbourfront space. My friendship with Danny spans years, and our combined hospitality experience brings a unique edge to the venture as we work to bring the historic site to life again.”
The 160 seat venue holds two bespoke private dining rooms, including one with direct waterfront access and a terrace. Sala’s food offering will extend past the venue, as the kitchen will cater for boat hospitality on Sydney harbour.
Head chef Michael Lewis has curated a seafood focused menu to match the coastal style of the venue; embracing authentic Italian cuisine and techniques while utilising an expanded pantry to add interest to the dishes. Highlight dishes include: Russo’s signature squid ink tortellini with crab meat, roast tomato, and lemon and caper sauce; crispy risoni fingers with caviar and parmesan; and Sala’s Piemontese hazelnut, with the chocolate used in their desserts locally sourced from Jessica Pedemont’s Chocolate Artisan in Haberfield.
Of working with Lewis to curate the menu, Russo said: “We wanted to call on nostalgic Italian flavours and give them a modern flair to offer a sophisticated yet playful experience to diners. Risoni, for instance, is a classic Italian dish for children, and here we have reinvented it with mature flavours like caviar, which perfectly captures our cooking at Sala – a balance between authenticity and spontaneity.”
The drinks offering has been curated by head sommelier Rocco Pezzullo to pair easily with the cuisine, as the wine list is predominantly Italian varietals sourced not only from overseas, but from local producers as well. Bar manager Behzad Vaziri has created a cocktail list that sees a full Negroni collection and Italian classics like an Amari Sour section which gives guests the option of choosing their favourite sour. Sala’s signature collection of cocktails is inspired by the sea, inclusive of the Australian coast and the Mediterranean, such as the Oyster Shell Martini with Never Never Oyster Shell gin and three oils (pine nut, basil, olive), and the Mediterranean Slide with Mastica, limoncello, egg white, basil.
Sala’s design direction, executed by The General Store, takes inspiration from its harbourfront location, with interiors guided by Mediterranean cues, employing neutral tones, curved edges, fluid forms and lots of different textures. The building’s 100-year old heritage architecture also offers the opportunity to juxtapose the dark timber structures with light and bright materials such as white clay, stone, marble and lighting installations which reflect the sunlight.
Danny Lattouf, partner and chief strategy officer at The General Store said, “We set out to create the most authentically Sydney dining experience, with the welcoming Greek heritage of the Dedes Group and the Dedes family, the Italian culinary mastery from the Russolini Group and Danny himself, and then the heritage of this stunning harbour and the building itself.”
Divided into several rooms, the design of the building lends itself to unique experiences for different occasions; there’s the terrace for a casual drink, the main dining room for formal affairs, and a crudo bar overlooking an open kitchen for an immersive and theatrical experience.