Since 2010, 10 William Street has been a bustling haven for Sydneysiders craving clever but unfussy cooking and unconventional wine delivered with calm confidence and assured knowledge, and it’s never been better.
The nuts & bolts
- Opened 2010
- Function spaces: 20 guests
An offshoot of Potts Point’s much-loved Fratelli Paradiso, 10 William St shed the skin of modern Australian-Italian dining with a push away from fried calamari with rocket et al, delving into a new form of Italian experimentation. Respectful and subtle experimentation, that is. And while Fratelli Paradiso has long stuck to a wine list that shuns the commercial and the overworked, 10 William St went somewhat further down the minimal intervention and natural road.”
10 William St is a place with a real passion for natural wine, however we do not have a set of regulations that our wines must fit within,” says sommelier Oliver Smith. “Rather, we buy from producers and importers we trust and have strong relationships with. The only prerequisite for our list is that a wine is grown organically – this is to recognise the extra effort being put in by farmers who avoid the use of synthetic chemicals to promote soil health. Other than that, we choose the wines we like. It just so happens that the wines we like are made naturally and with a respect for the land.”
The list, which stretches to over 120 listings with 15 by the glass plus specials (they like their chalk here, too), is at its heart dynamic, fluid (pardon the pun). Given the hand-crafted nature of most of the bottlings, scarcity is a given and the list is in constant motion. Smith also notes that they have recently upped the by-the-glass offering to include more premium wines. “It gives the casual punter the opportunity to try wines that may otherwise have seemed out of reach,” he says. “It also gives the wine team a chance to spread their wings a little and get creative with some special listings.”
That hopelessly general term ‘Italian cuisine’ is no guiding principle here. The sensibility is broadly Italian, but the interpretation is individual, with the chef of the moment working inside the spirit but doing so in a way that is entirely reflective of their own style. That’s an important factor. While Fratelli Paradiso has never been a chef’s restaurant, one that relies on the reputation of the practitioner on the pans, 10 William St has retained its distinct identity while also framing some of this country’s finest cooking talents.
Housed in a converted terrace house, the restaurant spans two floors. There’s a six-seater bar downstairs and tightly packed brass-fringed tables, with attendant timber bentwood chairs and stools. They’re tight but not cramped quarters, which is all part of the ever-vibrant charm of the place. Upstairs, there’s a little more space, with larger tables and the capacity to seat a few more diners.
Dan Pepperell originally launched the kitchen with his tangential slant on the classics, and the cuisine has taken altogether different, and fascinating, digressions since. These changes have resulted in compellingly different menus (though Pepperell’s pretzel and whipped bottarga is a stayer) at 10 William St, while retaining an essential continuity, which is testament the deep connections and passion of the owners, Marco Ambrosino and Enrico and Giovanni Paradiso
Frank Guest is now on the pans, and central to his philosophy is butchering whole animals, such as goat and suckling pig. “Embracing the nose-to-tail philosophy, different cuts are prepared in different ways and used throughout the menu,” says Smith. “The kitchen has always focused on local and responsibly sourced ingredients, but Frank is taking that to new levels, which allows us to minimise the waste and shows a great respect to the animal that has given its life for our satisfaction.”
Once a walk-up only venue, 10 William St now takes bookings, which is a huge bonus for those that wish to plan ahead, but a large portion of the space is kept unreserved, meaning those unplanned visits are just as welcome. “This gives customers the flexibility to wander past and try their luck for a spot to enjoy a snack and a glass of wine,” says Smith. “The bar has proven to be a particularly popular spot for an impromptu visit, and, despite their best intentions I’m sure, we often find these guests are the last ones standing at the end of the evening!”