In the midst of a distressing decline in quaint eateries, the once illustrious suburb of Paddington is being propped up by one address…
Nestled amongst a plethora of old-world designer boutiques, 10 William St is an unassuming shop-front, turned restaurant. Dimly lit and warm from the outside in, this tiny building sings with a constant, engine-like hum of its clientele in the middle of a truly fantastic experience.
The gentleman in charge of this new Paddington icon goes by the name of Giovanni Paradiso. Tremendously pleasant and impossibly kind, Gio’s innate passion for his line of work is nothing short of infectious. He is grounded, calculated and knows exactly how to run a successful establishment – just ask the regulars of his already famous Fratelli Paradiso in Potts Point.Giovanni’s foremost passion is “free wine”, a new-fangled trend amongst those in the “wine-making know”. Free wine is how wine should be – small batch, boutique and without egg, milk, fish and copper elements – it’s also neither fined nor filtered. The idea stems from the belief that essential flavours, grip and complexities are lost when the aforementioned additives and agents are used.
If you are concerned that Gio’s passion for wine may have shifted the focus and quality from the food menu – it hasn’t. Like a true Italian eatery, when we arrived Gio was dining with his family upstairs which obviously prompted us to allow him to select our food. Perhaps the moment caught us all a little off guard as we sat amongst the thriving crowd of patrons, but when the food came, it came in volumes and when the wine arrived conversation ceased completely as the table tasted the delicious offerings. On the night we were most impressed with the simplicity of the prosciutto san daniele served with focaccia, the ragu of osso buco, the ‘Fratelli’ tiramisu and the series of cheeses and breads that accompanied the sweet Marsala.
Our night at 10 William St was an experience that none of us will readily forget as we left overwhelmed and ever so impressed. Our food was continuously accompanied by the most appropriate wines and these are just a few of the hidden gems on Gio’s groundbreaking wine menu of over 300 bottles.
Giovanni’s own Spergola “Free Wine” – Adelaide Hills
A wine that Giovanni can’t help but be proud of, this “free wine” is produced from a select parcel of Spergola found in the Adelaide Hills. Deep gold in colour (similar to a young German Riesling), this exceptionally clean wine is vibrant and lightly fragrant with stacks of crunchy green apple, pear and dried herb flavours. Brilliantly textured and showing superb clarity in the mouth, this wine is a must try (if not already sold out).
Vie de Romans Pinot Grigio 2009 – Friuli
A fantastically produced, thoughtful take on the stalwart Italian Pinot Grigio grape, this is my pick of the selection. Impossibly rich with a developed copper hue and mellow butter nose, the colour stems from the wine’s extra time on skins in the winery. The opposite style to those we are used to here in Australia, Vie de Romans settles into a beautifully creamy, mouth-coating wine of the utmost quality.
Giovanni’s own Syrah – Barossa Valley
In the glass this wine portrayed bright, red brick hues reminiscent of aged Coonawarra Cabernet. A naturally produced Syrah, this wine (like the Spergola) is Giovanni’s own. Delightfully structured with an earthy grip, bitter cherry front palate and savoury mushroom finish, this drop is pure and a refreshing movement away from the usual fruit bombs of the South. Similar to aged Rhône in style and profile.
Marco De Bartoli Marsala
Italy’s take on fortified wine, Marsala is sure to do to Port what Blanc de Blancs is doing to Champagne. Deep golden in colour and erupting with sweet almond, toffee, mascarpone and bitter caramel, this Marsala was the ideal way to end a fantastic dinner. Sweet and smooth in equal measure, the winemaker Marco has worked hard to produce a textured wine where bitter flavours of almond, cream and peaches assimilate.
If it’s not already, 10 William St needs to travel to the top of your “must visit” list. Not just for the food and not just for the wine, but also for a small insight into what real passion for perfection looks like. Every element of what goes on in this place is copybook – from the lovely, knowledgeable staff, to the mouth-watering food and each bottle of hand-made wine – each chosen to perfection and sealed with a paraffin seal of approval. When it comes down to it, it’s the 1 percenters that separate great from spectacular.