Regional Italian cooking is back on the radar in Sydney with the imminent arrival of Marta, which opens in Rushcutters Bay in September. The food of Rome is its focus, and from the looks of the salty, pungent, anchovy- and olive-strewn menu we've seen, it's hewing true to the Italian capital's reputation for gutsy, full-flavoured cuisine.
The anchovies feature in everything from buttered bruschetta to alici arraganate, which sees them baked with sautéed endive, while the artichokes that are a signature of Rome's Jewish neighbourhood appear grilled with mint in a classic carciofi alla piastra.
Then there are the other great Roman classics, including suppli, the cousins of arancini, and the hearts of chicory known as puntarelle.
And the pasta? Whether it'll be the ridiculously al dente style Rome is famed for, the sauces sound promising. No sign of a carbonara yet, but its ancestors, Amatriciana (done with bombolotti, little rigatoni-like tubes) and cacio e pepe (black pepper and "heaps of pecorino") are present and correct.
Bucatini, mussels, cherry tomatoes and pecorino Romano.
But now the hard news. Sort of. For Marta to live, Popolo must die. Or at least move. Marta is the brainchild of Popolo owner Flavio Carnevale, and to make way for it, he's closing Popolo on August 13 ahead of plans to move the southern-themed restaurant to new CBD digs.
"Popolo has a formality to it that's better suited to the city," he says. "With Marta we wanted to create a true neighbourhood osteria, so Rushcutters Bay was a natural fit."
Marta opens mid-September; 50 McLachlan Ave, Rushcutters Bay, NSW