Known as Little Italy, the laidback inner Sydney suburb of Leichhardt dishes up a distinct Italian flavour and welcoming European hospitality. You’ll find a line-up of cafes and restaurants along bustling Norton Street, serving handmade pasta, woodfired pizza, strong espresso and a selection of delicious dolci. While the stunning Italian Forum piazza will transport you straight to Rome.
Things to do
An enjoyable way to experience Leichhardt’s heritage and culinary delights is on a walking tour, either self-guided or with the Italian Association of Assistance. Established in 1968, this community organisation offers three charming tours, including a heritage tour that concludes with a traditional Italian lunch. Check the events calendar for Italian cooking classes.
Although postponed in 2021 due to the pandemic, one of the biggest events on the cultural calendar is the Norton Street Italian Festa. During this splendid community festival, the whole street is closed off to cars, allowing pedestrians to take in all aspects of Italian culture, from the food to the entertainment and the delight of la dolce vita.
Creatives will love Art Est, a light-filled creative space in a converted warehouse that hosts classes in everything from drawing to ceramics and has a great gallery. If art is your thing, also pay a visit to Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-op, a gallery that celebrates urban Aboriginal art. Other things to do in Leichhardt include a visit to the Sydney Bus Museum, Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre and local arthouse cinema.
Eat & drink
Call into some of the Italian eateries that gave Norton Street its reputation. Mezzapica Cakes has been serving amaretti biscuits, decadent tortes and crisp cannoli since 1952. Bar Italia opened the same year, serving strong espresso, simple Italian fare and homemade gelato. Alternatively, visit Capriccio Osteria for modern Italian cuisine, and Aperitivo or Moretti Ristorante for pizza cooked to perfection.
Grappa Ristorante e Bar is good for big groups and long lunches. But it’s not all Italian food in Leichhardt, there’s also plenty of great wine bars, chic cafes, pubs and restaurants serving other cuisines, including French, Greek and Asian. The Royal Leichhardt is a popular local watering hole, as is wine bar Creek and Cella and The Twisted Indian for cocktails and craft beer with hearty Indian fare.
It’s easy to get to Leichhardt by public transport. Buses from the inner city travel down Parramatta Road and along Norton Street, getting there in about 20 minutes. Alternatively, catch the light rail from Central Station to Leichhardt North light rail stop.