The Manfredi family opened this iconic Sydney restaurant at the back of a cartoonist gallery on Harris Street Ultimo in 1983. A statement of modern simplicity, The Restaurant transformed popular conceptions of Italian food, its influence apparent in the produce, dishes, and style of service that permeate the Australian dining experience today.
Stefano Manfredi interpreted the food of his childhood through a modern-Australian lense, outraging certain heavy-weight reviewers and challenging diners with his ‘bastardised’ version of classic Italian cuisine. Ingredients and dishes we now take for granted like polenta, pannacotta and risotto all appeared first at The Restaurant, while Franca Manfredi introduced diners to the art of Lombardian pasta, handmade to perfection. Her Gnocchi, Stracci, Tortelli, and Tagliatelle inspired countless copies throughout Australia and remain a fixture of Sydney food lore.
The Restaurant Manfredi (rechristened in 1992) reflected an increasingly modern and sophisticated Australian viewpoint, from the stark white walls used to exhibit work by emerging artists like Gary Shead, to the lack of tablecloths (unheard of at the time) and printed menus that evolved seasonally. With Stefano Manfredi and mother Franca at the helm in the kitchen and Julie Manfredi Hughes driving the front of house service and style , In 1993 it became the first and only Italian restaurant in Sydney to be awarded the coveted 3 hats by the SMH Good Food guide to date.
In 2007, Simon Thompson cited Manfredi twice in his collection of Sydney’s 25 biggest menu influences since 1982, crediting him for introducing Gnocchi with burnt butter and sage and Pannacotta to our palettes.