Monday, March 26, 2012

Café Sopra: Up under Bridge Street

I can definitely stop whinging about pasta in the city, for not long after two options for decent, non-microwaved, non-bain marie pasta came the third – Café Sopra on Bridge Street, underground opposite the Australian Securities Exchange building.

There are lunchtime queues, but not nearly as bad as those at Jamie’s Italian, but there’s also a large bar area in which to wait, or indeed, just dine on the pizzeria and mozzarella bar menu if waiting it out for pasta is not an option.

Pommery champagne at Café Sopra, Bridge Street, Sydney
It appears the Santa Vittoria brand is promoted alongside the bar, where a seat is hard to come by on a Friday lunch. The packed bar area (not the main dining room, which is next to the open kitchen) seems scarce of staff that are able to take orders, but at least the seats come and go fairly briskly.

But when we finally do get to order, it’s hard to ignore the ‘Recession Mark II’ prices of the wine list where house red and white wines by the glass are $3.50 (Pommery by the glass, $10, is a special on the day).

Every other wine, predominantly Italian, comes in at under $13 from memory and both the Montepulciano reds I try are distractingly smooth and velvety.

Bresaola, grilled peaches, arugula and bocconcini
Actually seated at the mozzarella bar, I could’t watch the multiple plates of mozzarella and other cheeses leave the bar and not have some for myself. Having previously tried and loved the mozzarella with eggplant, I went instead with the bresaola-featured salad of grilled peaches, rocket and sliced bocconcini.

I’m still yet to find an Australian mozzarella that has some flavour in addition to the great texture of the stretched cheese, and this bocconcini was no winner. A small plate presented the thin slices of salty bresaola, of which I’m currently playing favourites with its porcine cousin, prosciutto.

Sweet and mushily grilled peach segments are the perfect offsetting taste to the salty cured meat, although the salt flake flecked rocket didn’t really help the cause.

Nduja salami, capsicum and ricotta pizza
Having glimpsed at the pizza-makers at the front of the restaurant while waiting for service, it appeared that the bases they used for pizza were sadly pre-prepared and pre-cooked. Thick enough to prevent bubbling of the crust, the base was the only let-down of the fantastic salami topping, even if it wasn’t the spicy salami paste I was expecting.

But spicy the salami was, and deliciously so with the airy, piped fat worms of white ricotta cheese and colourful strips of cooked capsicum. In this case, the topping flavours were all there, leaving just the base languishing for a little more love.

The Café Sopra bar and mozzarella bar both open straight through from lunch to dinner while the proper dining section closes between 3pm to 6pm. And next time I have a long lunch, I’ll be investing it into waiting for a pasta lunch instead of that extra glass of Montepulciano.

Café Sopra on Urbanspoon


chocolatesuze said...

mmm i sure could do with a plate of cheese right about now

john@heneedsfood said...

A big "yes please" to a glass of vino that costs just $3.50! What a bargain. Not liking the sound of pre-cooked pizza bases. That's terrible!

MissPiggy said...

It would be nice to have somewhere like this close to work for sneaky "long lunches" - it all just sounds so NYC to me.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

There are so many Sopras now aren't there! Not a bad thing of course, the food is great :)

Chopinand @ ChopinandMysaucepan said...

Dear Tina,

I have been to the Cafe Sopra at Walsh Bay and on both occasions the pasta was absolutely delicious and I rate their no-cream, egg yolk carbonara as one of the best in Sydney.

Sara - Belly Rumbles said...

I just love the sound of the mozzarella bar.

Vivian - vxdollface said...

I still haven't been to the Bridge St venue yet but my brother loves this place!

Tina said...

Hi Suze - I sure could too! Anytime really...

Hi John - Tell me about it! Even cheaper by the bottle!

Hi MissPiggy - You do need some time for the wait for the proper dining here, so I keep it for Fridays and the like ;)

Hi Lorraine - One for everywhere you might need one! ;)

Hi Chopinand - Yup, some very very good pasta to be had, and mostly the dried stuff too!

Hi Sara - Those words are music to my ears :)

Hi Vivian - Yeah, it's underground so not as light and airy as Waterloo, for example.

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

I really adore their pasta. IT is such a great meal using excellent produce

Corinne @ Gourmantic said...

I wasn't as impressed as I was at Cafe Sopra in Walsh Bay. They were out of a few dishes and what we ate was pretty average. I know they're capable of more.

I think they'll do well as an alternative to Jamie Oliver for those who don't like to queue.

Tina said...

Hi Tina - Sure is, I'm due for another fix soon!

Hi Corinne - Unbelievably, the queues for Jamie's continue - every night too!


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