On the 27th of September 1996, a Last Supper was held at The Restaurant Manfredi after 13 years in Ultimo. A week later bel mondo opened its doors, ushering in a new era of Australian dining in the heart of Sydney’s Rocks district.
Architect Luigi Rosselli, was commissioned by Manfredi and Manfredi Hughes, and worked with the existing heritage warehouse space to create a restaurant of unparalleled drama and distinction. High ceilings, light-drenched windows and stark industrial fit-outs achieved a balance of the historical and the contemporary perfectly suited to Manfredi’s refined cuisine, while diners received one of the first real glimpses into the heart of the machine. Manfredi’s kitchen, elevated to prime status by Rosselli atop a platform of recycled Kauri Pine floors boards and powder coated steel, cemented the 90’s dining culture as one of voyeuristic spectacle.
With Manfredi Hughes bringing an inspired New York approach, Bel mondo heralded the first restaurant in Sydney to showcase a refined warehouse chic creating a new benchmark in style .
Within months of opening, and awarded 2 hats consistently over its life with Manfedi, bel mondo was hailed as “the restaurant event of the year” by the Sydney Morning Herald, while the New York Times and Vogue Entertaining claimed it “the best Italian food in Australia” and “the place to see and be seen” respectively. It went on to win a wave of awards, including Best New Restaurant (1997), Best Restaurant Sydney City (1998) and Best Restaurant NSW (1999) at the American Express Good Food Guide Awards.
Sold by the Manfredi family in 2002, bel mondo remained a staple of Sydney dining for another 12 years and a destination for overseas visitors, a testament to the name and reputation it established under Manfredi’s passionate eye.