Gazi is a former gasworks site located in Central Athens that has been transformed into a popular café, bar and restaurant precinct. It’s also the inspiration behind Gazzi, a new modern Australian restaurant that has launched in World Square shopping centre. Located in Liverpool Lane and open for breakfast, lunch, dinner plus lighter meals and drinks in between, it is proving to be a little green emerald in a precinct that is on an upwards trajectory.
The 50-seater restaurant and bar is owned by Con Lepouris, an experienced operator in the Sydney food scene. Lepouris is also the owner of a small café on Market Street. He said, “With Gazzi, we wanted to create a new dining experience for the CBD based on fresh, gourmet cuisine accompanied by a range of quality beers, wines and cocktails. We are hoping patrons will find it along the lines of the food offerings in Surry Hills, Alexandria and Rosebery – but with the convenience of being in the CBD”.
The AU Review had the opportunity to sit down to dinner at this new café. The venue was just four days old but already the mains of: ocean trout, pork belly and wagyu beef burger had proven popular among the locals. The outer façade of Gazzi is rustic, with its funky, blue-green and white metallic chairs. But it also boasts a leafy, bohemian feel thanks to its use of plants and leaves. It means that the vibe inside is both cosy and relaxing, with tea lights on each table adding an extra softness to the setting.
To start we tried the salt and pepper calamari with parmesan aioli and chilli salt. This was seasoned to perfection and the calamari were very consistent in size. The aioli was smooth and sensual and flavoured with just the right amount of garlic, while the parsley that accompanied it was fresh and flavoured with lemon juice. These golden crescent moons burst with a battered crunch and you also had the option of mixing these pieces with the aioli, the large sea salt flakes on the table or squeezing more lemon juice from a large wedge that was on the plate.
Our entrée also featured the antipasto board that could be shared by at least two people but was fit for a king. It covered many different flavour combinations and textures. The meats included strips of prosciutto and a deep burgundy bresaola, which was swimming in flavour. There were also semi-dried tomatoes that were seasoned with lush herbs. The plank also included a small flask of olive oil and the cheeses included a fluffy white mozzarella and a lemon and pepper curd, which was absolutely divine.
The most surprising element in the antipasti was one of the restaurant’s tapas, the truffle butter popcorn with sea salt and black pepper. These little puff balls had a hint of smoke and a woody taste, but they also worked well when combined with some of the bolder flavours. Other elements dotting the board were star anise flowers, a large selection of black olives and some strips of chilli.
The first of the mains that we tried was the ravioli of lamb shoulder with Kalamata olives, chilli, truss tomato, confit garlic, marinated feta and baby spinach. This dish was a very pretty one that featured a lovely combination of colours. The lamb was not an obvious taste in the pasta but the salty fetta was a welcome addition to the deep, red sauce.
This dish was well-complimented by the Taplow Maze, Central Ranges NSW 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon. This was one of a few red wines on the menu that also included additions from the Shiraz, merlot and pinot noir varieties. The cocktails menu also included Gazzi’s interpretations of classics like the Bloody Mary and Cosmopolitan as well as newer blends like Summer Punch and Boysenberry Bellini. A selection of white wines, champagnes, local and imported beers and house spirits were also available.
The second main we tried was the chuck and brisket wagyu burger on brioche with baby cos, vine ripened tomato, misa pitchu sauce and hand cut chips with parmesan aioli. This dish was the most disappointing one of the evening. The chips were golden but very different in shape and texture and the aioli was the same kind of smooth sauce we sampled during the entrée. But the most discouraging was the burger because while it was good, it just wasn’t great. Gourmet burgers have seen a real rise in recent times and while this one had some nice ingredients, it wasn’t as juicy or to the same standard as the places that actually specialise in this area, although perhaps to compare the two may be a little harsh.
The dessert was much better, the affogato boasted three scoops of creamy vanilla gelati plus a shot of Frangelico and Gazzi’s signature, espresso coffee. It all came together quite nicely. But the real winner was the milk chocolate panna cotta with fresh berries. This panna cotta was different from your traditional ones in that it was decadent and like a thick, rich chocolate custard that would hold its own, even when you tried to cut through it. This was topped with strawberries, blueberries and a sugary biscuit and there was a thick, double chocolate macaroon on the side that was delightful. It was a sweet slice of heaven.
John Oakley, the General Manager of Gazzi describes the restaurant and bar as a “One stop shop” and a “chameleon” because it offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. It gives local office workers the opportunity to have a refined and fresh express lunch that is cooked to order. Or couples and groups could have a comfortable dinner or drink. It’s early days for the establishment but the team – which includes chefs that have worked with Bill Granger – are keen to evolve and adapt. Oakley says: “It’s about finding out what works. It’s all new to us all”.
Oakley says that they had originally wanted to incorporate something that was a little bit different into World Square. They intend to have a seasonal menu that will make the most of fresh produce and this is something that is very different from the restaurant’s neighbours, which are mostly takeaway shops serving breakfast and lunch. Gazzi also eventually plan to branch out into catering and functions. If one things certain, this café looks poised for a bright future thanks to its winning combination of foods (The AU Review recommends the antipasti plate and panna cotta in particular) plus the attentive service staff and nice and friendly atmosphere all-round. As Oakley says: “It’s exciting for us and we’re happy to be in World Square”.
Gazzi Café & Bar
Address: 680 George Street (Shop 10.28) – World Square Shopping Centre, Sydney, Australia
Gazzi is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. For more information please visit: https://www.facebook.com/gazzicafebar
Originally published on 10 November 2014 at the following website: http://www.theaureview.com/lifestyle/eat/gazzi-restaurant-bar-world-square-sydney
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