'Don't judge a book by its cover' rings true for this fine dining restaurant located off the main arterial road known as The Horsley Drive at Smithfield - a predominantly industrial precinct in the Greater Western Sydney region. Amongst the rows of dated traditional Aussie suburban shopfronts with facades resembling the milkbar era is Candelori's Italian Restaurant.
A friend had made reservations at Candelori's and we were none the wiser expecting a casual Italian dinner, not realising that we were a tad underdressed for the venue!
From the moment we stepped through the extra-large entrance door, we were mesmerised by the grandeur of the interior. It was as if we were standing in of one the ritziest and finest dining venue that Sydney had to offer and it's not in Barangaroo, it's in Smithfield.
The statement piece is the grand long marble waterfall benchtop occupying almost the length of the whole floor separating the open kitchen from the main dining area. On the benchtop sits these huge floral arrangements in glass vases lined in a row.
The high ceilings are detailed with dark timber panelling adorned with smoke glass globe pendant chandeliers with amber light bulbs creating a pleasant and warm ambience for a decadent Italian meal.
The menu was quite extensive, everything looked tantalising on paper even before eating – they have weekly 'specials' in addition to their regular ten items per category from stuzzichini (finger food), Primi (first course), pasta, pesce (fish), carne e griglia (meat), contorni (side dishes), insalate (salads) and woodfire pizza and then there's the dessert menu, wine list and bar menu – where do we start?
We started with some refreshing lemon-lime bitters and cocktails to ease into the intense deliberation of menu selection.
STUZZICHINI (Finger Food)
SUCKLING PIG CROQUETTES WITH BLACK TRUFFLE | aioli | lemon
Crispy croquette shell filled with lovely moist pulled suckling pork packed full of truffle flavour goodness.
PRIMI (First Course)
CHARRED FREMANTLE OCTOPUS & CONFIT FENNEL | herb salsa
SUCKLING PIG CROQUETTES WITH BLACK TRUFFLE
Slightly over-charred but tender none the less octopus on a bed of refreshing fennel salad.
ZUCCHINI FLOWERS | ricotta | goats cheese | pecorino
Lightly battered crispy zucchini flower filled with smooth ricotta
SWORDFISH CARPACCIO | lemon chive oil | pomegranate | salt bush | caviar
Fine and delicately sliced swordfish lightly cured with lemon juice complemented by refreshing fruity sweet and sour bursts of pomegranate seeds.
LINGUINE WITH MORETON BAY BUGS | TIGER PRAWNS | MUSSELS | cherry tomatoes | chilli
Linguine cooked to Al-dente in a light fresh cherry tomato sauce topped with juicy seafood.
CRAB & PRAWN RAVIOLI | lemon butter | pangrattato
LINGUINE WITH MORETON BAY BUGS
Ravioli filled with sweet crab meat tossed in a bed of thick tomato sauce topped with melted shredded Parmigiano cheese.
POTATO GNOCCHI WITH BLACK TRUFFLE | mixed mushrooms, potato crisps
CRAB & PRAWN RAVIOLI
Soft, moist and delicate gnocchi in a Moorish, rich and creamy mushroom truffle sauce topped with melted Parmigiano cheese.
CRISPY HUMPTY DOO BARRAMUNDI | roasted cherry truss tomatoes | capers | confit garlic
POTATO GNOCCHI WITH BLACK TRUFFLE
Perfectly seared barramundi with crispy skin on a soft bed of silky smooth mash.
CARNE E GRIGLIA (Meat)
WOODFIRED CRISPY PORCHETTA | pork belly | parsnip puree | charred witlof
Succulent pork wrapped in crackling on a bed of sweet parsnip puree.
WAGYU BEEF CHEEK | rucola | cabbage | parsley | red wine
WOODFIRED CRISPY PORCHETTA
Melt in your mouth soft wagyu beef floating in a soup of delicious red wine sauce.
SALT CRUSTED RIB EYE | 450g grass-fed | roasted garlic | rosemary | extra virgin olive oil
WAGYU BEEF CHEEK
Lightly seasoned, tender and juicy - simplicity at its best, no sauce required.
MISTO MARE | tomato | fior di latte | tiger prawns | baby calamari | mussels | octopus
SALT CRUSTED RIB EYE
Smokey woodfire crusted pizza base topped with lovely seasoned seafood and melted mozzarella.
CONTORNI (Side Dishes)
SHOESTRING FRIES | rosemary salt | truffle aioli
Who can say no to fries with truffle aioli, even when you've ordered more than enough food to feed a whole army!
RICOTTA BOMBOLINI | warm Italian doughnuts, lemon curd, pistachio crumble
For doughnut lovers - mini doughnut balls rolled in sugar and cinnamon served warm with tangy lemon curd and ice-cream.
CHOCOLATE ROCHER | hazelnut mousse, caramel cream, hazelnut biscotti, passionfruit sorbet
A giant Ferrero Rocher filled with chocolate ganache and hazelnuts matched with passion-fruit sorbet.
MANGO & VANILLA CRÈME BRÛLÉE | vanilla custard, mango sorbet
Silky smooth brulee with perfect cracking, balanced with the tangy sorbet.
MANGO & VANILLA CRÈME BRÛLÉE
Candelori's Italian restaurant has been the locals' go-to establishment for all the special occasion celebrations since it opened its doors in 1999. Two decades later in 2019 after our first visit, we returned three times since - better discovered late than never!
If you happen to have driven past or have heard of this establishment for decades but have just never quite made it there, tick it off your list and make a reservation for a great Italian dining experience.