This is a confident restaurant that knows what it is, which is more than I can say for Google Maps, which seemed to struggle with displaying where it is. You’ll find it tucked behind a new residential development in the courtyard across from the BMW car dealership.
The wine list, mostly populated by Southern Italian wines from below latitude 41 degrees north, need not be bewildering. Wine-savvy staff are well versed in matching wines to drinkers. When asked for an easy-drinking red, they produced a lovely 2013 Pietradolce Etna Rosso ($72/bottle). With tea and cherry notes, this Sicilian wine, made from Nerello Mascalese grapes, has its closest analogy in pinot noir (just with more minerality).
As such, it suits the Pecorino Timballo ($19), a firm, baked cheese dish presented on a board with pear custard. This Italian answer to the cheese souffle is so good, some Popolo regulars pop in after dinner just to enjoy it.
Napolitana-style pizzas baked in their wood-fired oven are also menu highlights, particularly if the Burrata Panzerotto ($23) is on. It’s a plump belly-shaped pizza pocket stuffed with creamy-centred mozzarella, tomato and basil.
Seasonality clearly matters here, with spring asparagus - Asparagi ($9) – dressed with fig vincotto on the specials.
It’s the perfect foil to a textbook Octopus Ragu Risotto ($24).
50 McLachlan Avenue, Rushcutters Bay
Ph: (02) 9361 6641