Cafe Sopra, Walsh Bay, Sydney

Spaghetti cabonara $20

Spaghetti carbonara $20

I remember years ago when Il Baretto in Surry Hills were dishing out hearty pasta such as their signature duck ragu papardelle, the long wait for a table can be excruciatingly painful.

Fast forward six years and it looks like queuing for a good bowl of pasta in Sydney is happening all over again. Only this time, it is at Walsh Bay in the name of Cafe Sopra.

 Santa Vittoria Apperitivo Bar, Cafe Sopra

Santa Vittoria Apperitivo Bar, Cafe Sopra

The “no bookings taken” policy makes business sense for more casual restaurants which have a high volume of customers. Those who don’t mind the wait are usually the curious and the seasoned restaurant campaigners who might be pining for a particular dish that has hit the mark. I suspect the “in the middle” customers would care less standing in a queue which can go up to 45 minutes.

Al fresco dining at Cafe Sopra, Walsh Bay

Al fresco dining at Cafe Sopra, Walsh Bay

We have been to Cafe Sopra a couple of times before. This time, we rock up with friends at the Hickson road outlet in Walsh Bay at 1pm on a sunny Sunday and the entire restaurant is already in a full throttle lunch session where the al fresco areas are the most popular to take advantage of the winter sun.

Blackboard menu at Cafe Sopra

Blackboard menu at Cafe Sopra

It a good thing Fratelli Fresh, the organic grocer and providore is also within the premises so waiting diners have the option of browsing fresh herbs, pasta, olive oils and organic vegetables and fruits or simple have a coffee at the Santa Vittoria Apperitivo Bar. We choose to whet out appetites by gazing at the huge blackboard menu offering salads pasta and ragu.

Dining table at Cafe Sopra

Dining table at Cafe Sopra

We are finally seated after a 40 minute wait. This wait also means we have ample time to read the menu and decide on our orders.

The last time I was here, I had the spaghetti carbonara and I am having this same dish again today. This old world Italian classic is given a fresh new twist. Out is the gunky thick creamy sauce still being dished out by traditional Italian restaurants.

Spaghetti cabonara $20

Spaghetti carbonara $20

What makes this classic dish special is really simple – good pasta and EVOO, crispy bacon, fresh herbs and the organic egg yolk that is stirred in for added silkiness and complexity. Grab your fork because every twirl is a mouth-watering forkful of flavour. My tip for chilli and spice lovers is to request for fresh chillies which have been marinated in EVOO to give the pasta an added kick.

Scramble eggs with goat's cheese and sourdough bread $18

Cod pate with poached egg and mussel vinaigrette $18

A cod pate with poached egg and mussel vinaigrette is rich and creamy although I would prefer the pate to be presented on the side rather than on top of the bread. Soggy toast is not fun at all.

Fettuccine with lemon, chilli, parsley and pangrattato

Fettuccine with lemon, chilli, parsley and pangrattato $20

The fettuccine with lemon, chilli, parsley and pangrattato arrives where the pasta is covered with the golden and delectable bits of pangrattato or fried breadcrumbs which is often a used by Italian peasants as a substitute for  parmesan. Although there is no meat or seafood in this dish, the crunchy texture of the breadcrumbs gives this dish the thumbs up.

Smoked trout fishcake with caper mayonnaise and soft boiled eggs $18

Smoked trout fishcake with caper mayonnaise and soft boiled eggs $18

A smoked trout fishcake with caper mayonnaise and soft boiled eggs is a revelation. I am a big fan of capers and for these little buggers to be whipped into a thick mayonnaise that accompanies the creamy smoked trout filling encased in a golden brown crusty shell shows creativity in cooking. And I haven’t even mentioned the rich and creamy soft boiled eggs!

Baked rhubarb with spices organic yoghurt $18

Baked rhubarb with spices organic yoghurt $18

We shared a baked rhubarb with spices organic yoghurt where tangy rhubarb sauce, the occasional crunch of roasted almond chips and the creamy yoghurt beckons for our acknowledgement for best winter dessert.

Lunch at Cafe Sopra

Lunch at Cafe Sopra

So dear readers, how long if at all, would you stand in queue for your favourite restaurant?

Cafe Sopra
16 Hickson road
Walsh Bay, Sydney
New South Wales
+612 8243 2700


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20 Responses to Cafe Sopra, Walsh Bay, Sydney

  1. the cod parfait looks like one delicious cloud! lovely meeting you and your wife in person yesterday!

  2. Wow there ‘s a new one! They’re popping up all over the place now! :)

  3. It looks like it was well worth the 40 minute wait!

  4. Manu says:

    What an interesting post. Being Italian I almost never eat at Italian restaurants outside of Italy… I am very picky, especially about my pasta (all Italians are… ;-) ). But I must say, this place looks good. I read the menu and was impressed as they got ALL the spelling right. This is the first thing I look at when I see an Italian restaurant. If they spell words wrong or they have “weird” combos of flavours, then I know they are not Italian. That said… I too make carbonara only with yolks (so thumbs up on that one, even though the herbs are a bit unusual) and I am a big fan of pangrattato on pasta, I use it a lot! :-) Great post!

  5. JasmyneTea says:

    I’ve been wanting to try this place so badly, but not many of my friends (or my partner for that matter) will wait in line for food. I’ll just have to live vicariously through you guys!

  6. Those fancy “spaghetti whirling beautifully around a fork” pics are going to become the emblem of your blog! :D

  7. Carolyn Jung says:

    I’d stand in line an hour for pasta that looked this divine. ;)

  8. LeQuan says:

    Wow, a 40 minute wait? I think that’s pretty close to how long I would wait for my favorite restaurant. The cod pate with poached egg looks amazing. Sorry about the soggy toast though. They really should’ve thought that out better. I’ve never tried rhubarb yoghurt before, sounds interesting. Great review, Chopinand!

  9. chandana says:

    I would be fine waiting for 40 mins for my favorite restaurant, but only if I know before hand I had to wait (i’m usually impatient after 20mins). It’s nice this place has a grocer. a good way to spend the time while waiting.

    From your pics I think Cafe Sopra was well worth the wait :)

  10. What a great menu board! So many delicious options!
    45 min is a very long time though, esp for hungry tummies…!

  11. This place looks like a heaven for pasta lovers!! Loved the pictures. I m sure this was a great experience and worth the wait!

  12. Ling says:

    Wow that is definitely not the spaghetti carbonara I envisioned! This version looks delicious too (and healthier without all that cream). And breadcrumbs over fettucine? Genius! Carbs on carbs :)

  13. Manu is my friend and I read her comment before coming here.. it’s funny how we look if the restaurant is authentic or not. I do take a look at menu of Japanese restaurants and see if they are authentic enough by the combination of food and the spelling/naming. It’s so true! I was thinking this place looks really nice and I wanted to try (if I’m in Sydney), and Manu just confirmed it’s a good place. Your pictures always make me hungry at night. I miss eating out and finding good restaurants….

  14. I don’t mind waiting if I told about the wait beforehand. If I’m seated and then left to just kick my heels, I become VERY unhappy.
    The cod looks the nicest, but you should have asked for fresh toast.

  15. The dishes here look so well-made… I can see how it would be worth the wait. On the other hand I am not a girl with a lot of patience, especially when I’m hungry. ;)

  16. Chopinand says:

    Hi chocolatesuze, the cod pate was quite decadent to say the least. Great meeting you and your hubby too :)

    Hi Lorraine, I think there are now 3 outlets in Sydney.

    Hi Maris, since we have been here before, I think we half didn’t mind the wait :(

    Hi Manu, both the pasta dishes were pretty spot on and it refreshing to see it’s done a little different with great flavours.

    Hi JasmyneTea, you just have to wander down there as taste the food for yourself!

    Hi Kath, that is the agony of my fellow dinners who are now resigned to the fact they can’t start their meal without the obligatory photo, although I try to make it quick and snappy :)

    Hi Carolyn, looks like you’re a pasta fan too!

    Hi LeQuan, I’m not a big fan of rhubarb but if done well it’s quite a nice dessert.

    Hi chandana, it was worth the wait although I think we gobbled up our lunch in about 20 minutes!

    Hi Tina, you’re right there and we tucked right in!

    Hi Tanvi, I’m not sure if I would make it a habit to wait in queue though!

    Hi Ling, the 2 pasta dishes were quite special.

    Hi Nami, I think Manu really knows here stuff judging from all her beautiful recipes!

    Hi InTolerantChef, overall, I think the meal was great and we were hungry :)

    Hi leaf, agree that patience and hunger isn’t a good combination!

  17. We had a booking for a small group so we didn’t have to wait. It was great value for $60 pp and had so much left over that they offered to pack for us. The ragu was the standout dish but they were all very tasty and fresh.

    I’m not that keen on places that make you wait unless they have a great bar where you can sit comfortably while you wait. Even then 30 mins would be the max.

  18. Been meaning to come here. The fettuccine with lemon, chilli, parsley and pangrattato looks right up my alley and so does the baked rhubarb and yoghurt.

  19. vivienne says:

    ive been here few months ago and ordered similar yummy dishes (but didn’t have to wait in line at all even tho it was a wkend too!)
    wonder if their waterloo location is equally busy and popular as well?
    haha i rem il baretto in surry hills…everytime we drive past it now it seems like its closed!

  20. Susan says:

    One of my favourite places to eat in Sydney. Only been to the Waterloo one though.

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