Food News

Aria is celebrating 20 years in Sydney with a tasting menu of its greatest hits

Two decades is a long time for a fine-dining restaurant to not just survive but thrive in this town. A lot has changed but the tablecloths, and that stunning view, remain.
Aria's Matt Moran

Aria's Matt Moran

Kevin O'Brien

Do not adjust your screens. A number of high-profile Sydney restaurants may have shut up shop during the notorious winter low-season (vale Acme, Paper Bird, Oscillate Wildly and Sotta Sopra). But Aria, co-owned by chef Matt Moran and restaurateur Bruce Solomon, is marking its 20th birthday with a tasting menu of the restaurant’s greatest hits.

“I think the statistics are 80 per cent of restaurants go broke in their first two years,” says Moran. “We’ve beaten the odds 10 times over.”

The eight-course menu, available throughout October, is a retrospective of Aria‘s classic dishes. The Peking duck consommé and Kurobuta pork belly from the restaurant’s early years were removed during a 2014 menu revamp, but will be given a modern rework by executive chef Joel Bickford. The lobster and caviar French toast, introduced after Aria’s renovations in 2016, makes a welcome reappearance, too.

Kurobuta pork, apple.

(Photo: Hugh O’Brien)

The irony of celebrating 20 years of Aria in Sydney and closing Aria Brisbane (the Brisbane location is slated for redevelopment) in the same year is not lost on Moran. But he says the anniversary menu is not just a celebration of the flagship restaurant’s longevity, but also a narrative of how far they’ve come since opening in 1999. “When we first started, the menu was a bit of everything and wanting to please everyone,” says Moran. “Back then, we’d use out-of-season asparagus from Peru.” Now, the restaurant shines a light on Australian produce, and changes the menu four times a year according to the seasons.

And while Sydney’s dining scene has loosened its proverbial tie, Aria has proudly settled into its modern-Australian fine-dining brief. “We’re one of only a few fine-dining restaurants in Sydney that still use table linen,” says Moran. “I think it’s a sign of being refined and elegant, but we’re not old-hat.”

The view from the front dining room at Aria.

(Photo: Cole Bennetts)

And after 20 years, that unbeatable view of the Opera House still remains, though spare a thought for the chefs – the harbour can’t be seen from the kitchen. “The views would be a distraction, I think,” says Moran. “But the chefs do have beautiful views of the rest of the dining room.”

Aria’s 20th anniversary tasting menu is available throughout October for $210 per person.

Aria, 1 Macquarie St, Sydney, (02) 9240 2255,

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