It’s 1.30pm on a Saturday, I’ve barely been awake for an hour, and while I should be scoffing scrambled eggs and coffee to deal with my hangover I find myself at Ragu Pasta and Wine Bar in Westfield instead.
It’s been a while since I’ve had red wine for breakfast but I have to say – it works pretty well.
I’m here because a Kiwi friend of mine is in town for the day and refuses to drink coffee.
“Drinkin’s thinkin’” he brusquely said when I suggested a bean-based brew. Although I didn’t know what the Kiwi’s brusque and cryptic saying meant, I started thinking of possible alcoholic breakfast options and concluded a glass of red and some house-made pasta at Ragu should ease me and my alcoholic friend into the day.
Even though Ragu is located in a Sydney food court it somehow feels like an authentic Italian wine bar. As soon as I’m perched on a zebra-striped stool at Ragu’s curved bar counter, an array of wine bottles facing me, I forget about the shoppers just metres away. The sounds of Italian being spoken by the staff and the Italian man hunkered over his pasta next to me add to to the feel of authenticity.
Tempted by the displays of fresh home-made pasta, I order the orecchiette with ragu. Orecchiette pasta originates from South Italy and is named after the Italian word for ear, since that’s the shape the pasta is roughly in. The orecchiette here is (to shamelessly use MasterChef parlance – I really watched that show far too much) the hero of the dish: it has bite and texture and goes beautifully with the small pieces of tender beef and rustic tomato-based sauce. In short, it’s hearty, honest and simple Italian fare – and good value for $15.
I wash it down with a glass of A.Retief shiraz, which is also great value for $9. This is the first time I ever tried a wine from NSW’s A.Retief but I’m going to look out for it from now on – my shiraz is well balanced and, to yet again shamelessly use MasterChef parlance (I promise this is the last time), it has bags of flavour. Actually, that MasterChef saying doesn’t make sense, really – what is a bag of flavour?
But I digress.
The Kiwi keeps sneaking jealous peeks at my pasta and grumbles that he shouldn’t have eaten before meeting me. I shield my pasta with my arms and hunker down like the paisan next to me, but I’m also grateful to the Kiwi for forcing me to avoid my coffee today. All of a sudden his cryptic message makes sense: drinkin is thinkin.
Ragu Pasta & Wine Bar at Westfield Sydney. Level 5, in the newly opened part of the food court, Pitt Street Mall. Open until 7.30pm every day except Thursdays, when it’s open until 9.30pm.
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Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Ragu Pasta & Wine Bar?