gusto_bar_penneA taste of Sicily in the harbour city.

A taste of Sicily in the harbour city. By Cec Busby

Australians love Italian food. Restaurants all over this wide brown land are infused with the flavours of the Mediterranean and Aussies love to eat Italian fare – whether it’s pizzas or pasta or crusty bread we have a love affair with the cuisine that dates back to the 1950s.

But there’s a lot more to Italian dining than the traditional pizza and pasta and Gusto Bar and Kitchen in Watson’s Bay aims to broaden the palette of Sydneysiders and introduce the crisp flavours of Sicily.

Owner and head chef, Paolo Patane, is committed to providing each and every diner with a genuine taste of his homeland. First-generation Australian, Patane served his apprenticeship on the island outcrop of his forebears and immediately fell in love with the food of his spiritual homeland. “Gusto is a tribute to my Sicilian heritage, a culture that I am trying to help preserve for generations to come,” he says.

One look at the menu and you realise Patane is serious in his quest. No stodgy cream dishes here. Instead, there is an abundance of fresh flavoured dishes with trussed tomatoes, olives, black truffles, and extra virgin olive oil.

The starters range from fresh figs with prosciutto and shaved pecorino drizzled in honey to a tasting plate with grilled vegetables plump Ligurian olives, bresaola and sopressa and sharp crumbled cheeses. A special ravioli stuffed with blue swimmer crab and served in a delicate lemon sauce is absolute perfection. Patane then matches each offering with a wonderful selection of Sicilian wines which add depth of flavour to the dishes.

For mains, we opt for the swordfish, Pesce Spada Alla Messinese, (a Sicilian tradition) and the veal Scaloppine al Passito di Pantelleria. The swordfish steak arrives on the table, grilled to perfection and nestled in a toasty warm marinade of capers, tomato, Ligurian olives and oregano. The fish is succulent and benefits from the marinade which lends a sharpness to the meaty flavour of the fish. The veal proves a revelation, the sweet Italian muscat which forms the basis of the sauce is a superb match for the flavour of the fennel, lifting the dish to new heights.

Desserts are traditional Italian fare including regional favourite Cassata, and Italian classic cannoli – the fresh ricotta-filled pastry shells deliver a flavour burst as the crunch of the cannoli gives way to the smoothness of the ricotta filling.

If you’re looking for an Italian meal that’s a little different to the standard pizza/pasta fare then Gusto bar and kitchen will certainly appeal. The seasonally changing menu offers fresh flavours with a focus on seafood and local produce combined with an aesthetic Sicilian feel.


Gusto Bar & Kitchen

27 Military Road, Watsons Bay, Sydney

Ph: 02 9388 8827

Opening Hours:

Tuesday-Sunday, noon to 3 pm and 6 pm-1030pm

Saturday-Sunday, 8am-1030am

Closed on Mondays