Despite growing up in Sydney’s South West, I’d never even heard of Gledswood Hills before dining at Peca. Feeling out of touch was eased when I found out the suburb, named for the 1830 Gledswood Homestead, only came into being in 2011. As with many newer suburbs, random corner stores and double-sided main drags lined with shops and restaurants, have given way to drive-in retail precincts. Accordingly, you’ll find Peca inside SOMA Wellness – a one-stop medical hub where you’ll find everything from chiropractic to pathology.
While the exterior architecture is reasonably plain and functional, experienced Western Sydney restaurateur Antonio Tarzia, has certainly made the most of the double-storey interior space.
Licensed to take 380-people, 140 of whom will be in the yet-to-be-launched upstairs space, Peca is South Western Sydney’s new place to celebrate.
Despite only opening earlier this year, Tarzia tells me weekend functions are already fully booked out until the end of the year.
The interior is slick and contemporary, with double height allowing room for dangling statement lights. The extra air space is also filled with small trees housed in concrete-look pots that help to break up the room.
The openness, especially when combined with so many hard surfaces, running from polished aggregate floors to a marble bar, will undoubtedly be loud when Peca is at capacity.
We smartly slide in for a quiet mid-week dinner, and accordingly get good access to Tarzia’s time. He shepherds us through an unfamiliar wine list that currently centres upon Italy but will later expand to include some Croatian wines to match the menu's coastal Adriatic leanings.
For now, they just use Graševina in the Port Lincoln Mussels ($26) where the light, fruit-forward Croatian wine makes a delicate broth that leaves a lovely hole to taste bivalves.
It’s rounded out with cherry tomatoes (pomodorini), chilli, shallots and subtly-handled garlic in a dish that will have you crying out for focaccia even if you initially said no bread.
We were also wrong about not ordering warmed Toolunka Creek Olives ($8), but it was easily rectified.
Our Sicilian 2016 Nino Barraco Vignammare Grillo IGP ($95) is a seafood wine, with enough oomph to stretch to the excesses of porchetta (Italy’s fatty, spit-roasted pig). It’s salty, minerally and fruit-driven, with a medium weight and well-sold by Tarzia to match our dinner that kicks off with well-handled South Australian Sardines ($24). Lightly grilled and balanced by a caper and parsley vinaigrette, their liquid surrounds present another use for the almost cakey bread.
Western Australian Scampi ($32) arrive looking a little cremated, even in the super-low light room, but in fact turn out to be beautifully cooked. The creamy moist crustaceans get a wonderful flavour infusion from the smoked rosemary butter and confit garlic – I only wished there were more of them.
Peca is not solely about seafood – their Gnudi ($18) are not to be overlooked. These pillowy-soft cousins of gnocchi are made with seventy percent ricotta, and served in a burnt butter sauce with sage, pancetta and almonds, the richness cut by a whisker of sharpness.
Granita Limone ($5) will also help to put your palate back together before your main, with today's flavour being a pretty basil and lychee combination. I also highly recommend adding locally grown Lettuce Leaves ($10) to your meal. With a trickle of white balsamic, these Leppington-grown greens arrive looking so fresh, it’d be easy to think they were still planted.
They’ll help you digest Pugliese Grain-Fed Porchetta ($36) that arrives glistening with extra virgin olive oil and raw honey pan jus, cut slightly by caponata.
Lucky it’s very thinly sliced, because against copious servings of Whipped Polenta ($12), brown butter and sautéed local mushrooms, it’s the kind of artery-hardening dish that cardiologists’ fortunes are made upon. Peca’s polenta, by the way, is next level amazing; I like it so much I’m tempted to swap bowls and make my Carnaroli Risotto ($30) our shared side.
Dotted with peas, crisp smoked pancetta and lily pads of stracciatella cheese, this risotto has a lovely savoury flavour, though I personally prefer rice with more bite. It’s a small critique for a new restaurant that really builds upon Tarzia’s success with Grano in Wetherill Park. South Western Sydney should be very proud.
No. 7 Gregory Hills Drive, Gledswood Hills
Ph: (02) 4622 0812