Alessio Rago, head chef of newly-opened Italian restaurant, Harry’s, is no stranger to the busy and lively restaurant world, since growing up with his family running a chain of pizza restaurants. He was introduced to the kitchen and cooking world learning how to make pasta and pizza dough from scratch.
Harry’s is an 80-seater restaurant providing the flavours of Milan, right on the doorstep of Darlinghurst. It was set up by restaurateur duo, Giulia Treuner and Esmerelda Perez, the owners of Tuscan restaurant, Giuls. Named after Giulia’s late grandfather, it was set up with the idea of providing a mix of both casual dining with fine food featuring the flavour of Italy.
Vodka pasta, which has become a trend over the last year, which comes served with pancetta and flamed scallops, one of the more popular dishes.
Alessio’s team makes around 60-80 kilograms of pasta by hand using semolina, water and salt – and the acquired techniques, of course! Not to mention the pizza dough and tomato sauce, which contains its own unique blend of flavours, giving it a spicy kick.
“The pasta has to be fresh every day for the optimal taste and texture,” says Alessio.
Desserts feature a variety of traditional Italian flavours – but always with a twist, including their Tiramisu with pineapple.
Giulia and Alessio use local suppliers and have fresh ingredients delivered almost daily. While the underlying base is always about the pasta, Giulia and Alessio work closely together to come up with new creations, using food, including flamed scallops and polenta.
From an early introduction to the hospitality life, Alessio completed his diploma in hospitality, before starting out in a variety of kitchen roles, including as a chef de partie at the Terme Manzi Hotel, on the island of Ischia, Italy. He has since worked in restaurants with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and head chef at Shorties Bar and Restaurant in Lane Cove before meeting Giulia.
While Alessio’s journey in food has taken him across the world and landed him in roles across Australia, including at the Manly Pavilion – in Sydney, what really changed things for him was meeting Harry’s owner and restaurateur, Giulia Treuner.
With the combination of Alessio’s cooking and Giulia’s background in managing successful restaurants, including the Rockwell Group, it was a good match for the time.
The pair found common values and a shared love of recreating traditional Italian dishes into new and exciting creations. It was for this reason that Giulia felt compelled to ask Alessio to be the head chef at Harry’s.
“It was the right opportunity for me because I love working with the food that is close to my roots, and combining with new and interesting flavours,” said Alessio.
The restaurant, which opened in November 2022, is proving popular with local residents and visitors to the area. Alessio likes that he can work with food that is close to his heart, as well as with Giulia and the team, which go a long way to creating a content working environment.
“You’ve got to have fun when you are working with food. The hours are long and it can be stressful, but for me, it’s always about what food you can create for people to try.”
The season’s latest menu can be found by visiting Harry’s new menu at – https://www.harrysbygiuls.com.au/