Ms Ko Travels @ www.mskotravels.com. Read this and other articles on the blog
Caught the 370 bus from Glebe Point Road towards Leichhardt. Having dined around Glebe a lot the last few weeks we decided to go for a change and haven't visited Leichhardt for 2 years and just minutes away seemed like an excellent choice.
A inner city suburb 5km west of Sydney, best known as the "Little Italy". With Norton Street as the main commercial area where you can find restaurants, cafés, shops, residential buildings, doctors and other mix business. Home also of the notable Italian Forum, a building created to bring the Mediterranean theme to the area. It features outdoor and indoor restaurants, a piazza, the Leichhardt Library and other shops. It was buzzing, unique and surrounded by Italians sipping espressos, eating pasta and slices of pizza looking at the courtyard's fountain, you will definitely be asking yourself wether or not you were in Italy.
Unfortunately it seems that as years have gone by and times changed the Italian forum failed to, and on a Tuesday night as we walked in search of that authentic Italian experience that most people expect when in Leichhardt, we found an deserted large place. Empty restaurants with decor that hasn't changed since the 80's, yellow walls that used to be white, dusty pictures hanging in them, green and red neon lights, silence. Sad and a bit spooky. I felt like crying. I know how hard people work in restaurants and I know that these are struggling times, with people not spending money, enormous power bills, taxes, wages ... It just can't be sustained. There's no wonder why the Italian shops are now vacant tenancies or have been replaced by souvenirs shops made in China target to tourist.
The magic is gone and it is a huge lost to the community and to Sydney and a waste of building that was built and born to be crowded and vibrant. I hope that this is still the case on Friday and Saturdays.
We made our way out with great sadness. A big reminder of how fragile things are in life. We were lost and confused. The streets are quiet and it's 6.30pm. Walked for a few minutes and saw nothing that was indicating that we're serving good food. Then a bar of some sort. Nothing better than beer to lift the spirits!
What a nice and strange place. I kept looking around asking my husband "what is this place?", "is it an Argentinian or a Mexican bar?". The whole thing was screaming Latino but the Keno Signs and pookie machines were throwing me off, while the food menu was full of dishes like nachos, chorizo and quesadillas and the walls covered with South American themed pictures. Searching for some answers I went looking at the front of the building. There was one sign that said El Cartel, but then Leichhardt Hotel. Nevertheless, the place was cool and cheap. We shared a jug of Heineken for $13, can't get better than that! I later figured out that this is the Leichhartd Hotel in 95 Norton St and El Cartel is the name of its Mexican restaurant.
We google for places around, we couldn't make up our minds so decided just to walk a bit further. There was a small italian restaurant in the corner of Norton and Carisle Street, Cafe Jolly. It didn't look too bad but didn't have pizza in the menu and my son absolutely wanted it that night.
Further down, just before the street turns into mostly residential, there is a modern gorgeous looking restaurant, Aperitivo and a a japanese restaurant also elegant and sleek, Fujiyama. With a narrow, much less impressive entrance was 7ettimo Pizzeria Ristorante.
There was something about this little place. Walked in and got greeted by a friendly young man. There were 4 tables, all tables of two. Straightaway I had a look at people's plates and I could see the fresh salads and thin crust pizza.
You can see the kitchen at the back, 4 working men, two of them must be the owners. You can tell that somebody is italian and somebody knows good italian food.
The place is BYO, our waiter brought us some glasses and a wine cooler. We order a Rocket and Parmesan Salad which was perfect, fresh and with a delicate EVO and Balsamic Dressing, a sharp parmigiano shaved on top; a Margherita Pizza with a thin crust, crunchy on the cornicione - the border - cheesy and not overloaded with toppings and Penne Arrabiatta, al dente how it should always be, with perfect amount of chilli. We even had dessert which is so rare for us and we truly enjoyed our home made sticky date pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. Even Knoa had some!
They had no problem to welcome our 3 year old son, the food was excellent, fast and cheap. The staff friendly and knowledgeable. We really felt comfortable.
There is nothing fancy about 7ettimo, but it doesn't need to be. Just good, simple food.
There is one thing I would change if I could, the beige curtains.
7ettimo Pizzeria Ristorante
165 Norton Street, Leichhardt
02 9564 1199