Certainly a stayer on the Sydney restaurant scene, Beppi’s opened on 10 June 1956 and is still (as of 2021) operating at the same address. This, they claim, makes it “the longest-running restaurant under the same ownership in Sydney and we believe in Melbourne and possibly the whole of Australia”.
Beppi’s helped to introduce Italian food to Sydney. The eponymous Beppi Polese used to forage for mussels in the harbour at a time when most Australians regarded them as fit only for bait. Famous diners at Beppi’s have included Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassey, Neil Armstrong, Kerry Packer, P!nk, Geoffrey Rush and Billy Joel.
The Daily Telegraph NSW Restaurant Guide in 2004 wrote: ” One of Sydney’s first Italian restaurants … still owned and run by Beppi Polese, his wife Norma and son Marc. It still remains one of the most welcoming and hospitable restaurants in town, with a formidable tradition of providing exceptional food and service to generations of Sydneysiders.”
Beppi, sadly, did not live to see the restaurant’s 60th birthday. He died on 23 March 2016 at the age of 90. Tributes in the press recognised his contribution to Australian food, while the Restaurant & Catering Association (R&CA) wrote: “Beppi was one of the true masters of our industry. Unpretentious and passionate, his food was always from the heart. You went for a meal but you stayed for the hospitality. This is a legacy that will live on through his family and his restaurant.” Beppi Polese joined R&CA in the early ’70s and received the R&CA Lifetime Achiever Award in 2006.
Beppi’s is not cheap and cheerful Italian. As of 2021, the antipasti dishes are mostly over the $30 mark. The most expensive pasta dish – Saffron Tagliolini with WA jumbo Scampi tossed in garlic, butter & parsley – comes in at $69 as a main or $49 for an entree serve. Beppi’s signature Saltimbocca di Vitello ripieni di asiago, prosciutto e salvia (milk fed veal scaloppine folded with San Daniele prosciutto, Asiago cheese, sage & white wine sauce & garlic broccolini) is $44. This is serious stuff.