Above: Russo’s signature crab-stuffed squid-ink tortellini.
At his new Surry Hills trattoria, Danny Russo is ready to woo Sydneysiders once more.
By Carrie Hutchinson
There’s no telling why chef Danny Russo’s previous venture never really won the hearts of Sydney diners. Lo Studio was set in a deliriously beautiful Art Deco room in Surry Hills, and its modern Italian cooking always pleased, at least while Russo was at the helm. Yet his tenure there ended abruptly two years ago. That seems a long time for a respected chef to be out of a restaurant kitchen, but for Russo, it’s been time well spent, consulting, honing his art, and prepping for the debut of The Beresford (354 Bourke St., Surry Hills; 61-2/9357-1111).
Once a seedy pub, The Beresford has emerged from an extensive facelift to become one of the town’s most talked-about venues. Dinner tables in Russo’s corner of the establishment have been at a premium since the doors opened late last year, and it’s easy to see why. The 120-seat trattoria occupies a fetching area at the back, with bifold doors leading out to the most modern take on a beer garden Sydney has yet seen.
Russo’s dishes update recipes from his family’s ancestral home, Basilicata in southern Italy. Take, as an example, the lingua tonnata: two fat chunks of Wagyu beef tongue (replacing the traditional slices of veal) served with slivers of tuna and a sauce of capers and anchovies. Everyone who visits should try his signature dish: squid-ink tortellini stuffed with crabmeat, afloat on a sauce of roasted tomato, lemon, and capers. Visually stunning, it’s also the sort of dish that you could eat over and over again and never tire of. Desserts are also a treat, especially the chocolate-and-date tart with caramelized chickpeas and olive-oil gelato, a reinterpretation of a dish called cavezune. All this is packaged up with old-fashioned service and prices that are surprisingly good for this part of town. What’s not to love?
Originally appeared in the February/March 2009 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Beresford Essentials”)