Balmain’s former Fabbrica Pasta Bar location has undergone a vibrant transformation with the arrival of Secolo, a CBD eatery now housed in The Exchange Hotel.

Renowned hospitality figures Anthony, Tanja, and Robert Arienzale – known for their ventures like Vicolo and Sotto – have taken the reins at this heritage-listed establishment following the abrupt departure of its previous tenant in late 2023.

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Following the closure of their cherished Castlereagh St restaurant due to the challenges posed by COVID-19 restrictions and ongoing construction, the Arienzales sought a fresh venue. The Exchange Hotel, slated for refurbishment, serves as the temporary home for Secolo Balmain, operating initially as a pop-up.

Led by Anthony and Tanja Arienzale, alongside Anthony’s brother Robert and talented head chef Mattia Senesi from La Favola, the team aims to embed themselves within the local community for the long haul.

Preserving the venue’s historical charm, they’ve maintained its warm, neutral aesthetics, emphasising the building’s rich heritage.

“We saw how popular the site was with locals and how much of a void the previous departure left in the community, so when we were given the opportunity to bring our authentic Italian dining experience to the area, we jumped at it,” says Tanja. “Our restaurants are more than just venues to us. We’ve created a space where people can feel comfortable to relax and enjoy themselves, whether that’s over a drink after work or to celebrate a special occasion with family and friends.”

Secolo Balmain now open

Guests can perch at the original walnut timber bar, often finding one of the owners onsite to chat with, while indulging in a Venetian Spritz—a sophisticated twist on the classic Aperol Spritz, crafted with Select Aperitivo 1920, boasting a vibrant red hue and a green olive garnish, perfect for sunny afternoons and social media snaps alike.

The dining area, nestled against the window-clad walls, exudes a cozy atmosphere conducive to both lunchtime chats and evening meals.

While the setting may feel familiar, Secolo Balmain introduces a fresh culinary experience to the Inner West. Chef Senesi, drawing from his upbringing near Lake Como and culinary tutelage under his nonna, presents an authentic Italian menu showcasing modern interpretations of traditional dishes rarely found beyond Italy’s borders.

Indulge in a rich array of starters including Sardinian anchovies, beetroot carpaccio paired with creamy goat cheese, pine nuts, rocket, and a house-made dressing. Or opt for the luxurious burrata accompanied by fragrant basil pesto, marinated zucchini, and a sprinkle of olive crumb.

For those seeking an elevated experience, consider the oven-roasted bone marrow. Presented on the bone and intended to be savored atop freshly baked focaccia, the crisp breadcrumbs provide a delightful contrast to the succulent marrow.

Secolo Balmain takes pride in crafting their pastas in-house. Don’t miss the signature blue swimmer crab spaghetti, infused with a delicate blend of tomato, garlic, chili, and fresh herbs sourced from the CBD locale. Indulge further in the rigatoni alla norma, featuring fried eggplant, tomato, basil, and house-baked ricotta, or savor the house-made gnocchi with zucchini pesto, nduja, and cacio ricotta. The menu evolves with the seasons, promising new delights with each visit.

Complement your meal with selections from the extensive wine list, showcasing Italian varietals from Piedmont, Veneto, and Tuscany, alongside old-world classics from Burgundy and Provence, as well as a curated collection of Australian wines and grappa.

Dinner is served from 5:30 PM to 10:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday, with lunch available on Saturdays. Secure your table here