Lago Cucina

Jackie McMillan
21st May 2023

We dined upstairs with locals when we visited the recently rebadged Budgewoi Hotel. The light-filled, airy, neutral-toned Lago Cucina fills a gap in the local market for good quality, accessible Italian cuisine. With long tables, and more intimate booths carved into the walls, it’s just as set up for quiet midweek dinners as it is for festive group occasions. Operated by the Sydney Restaurant Group, the floor team knows how to make you feel valued and welcome. For our party of eight, this went above and beyond, with the kitchen crew carrying my elderly mother-in-law in her wheelchair Cleopatra-style up the venue’s front stairs. 

On what you might consider as a pricy menu for the area, it pays to eat family-style. The beautifully cooked whole lamb shoulder ($110) served under scattered mint with salsa verde and a golden roasted chat apiece was a lovely meal centrepiece. Miso-roasted cauliflower ($30) and truffle Parmesan fries ($12) dusted in porcini powder kicked it up into a whole meal. For our pescatarian component, an accessible tuna tartare ($30) dressed with miso and citrus, and the tender and lightly-battered Hawkesbury calamari fritti ($24) ensured everyone left satisfied. 

Sitting somewhere between chewy Neapolitan and the lighter Roman pizzas, Lago Cucina’s wood-fired offerings arrive with puffy blackened crusts and thinner, wetter centres. Vegana ($28) amped our vegetable intake with broccolini, garlic. mushrooms and roasted artichoke on crushed San Marzano tomatoes. In terms of drinks, alongside interesting cocktails and relatively mainstream beers, the wine list impressed by having multiple price points. From the lower end, the 2020 Corryton Burge ‘Kith’ Grenache ($56/bottle) proved an affable, red berry dominated day drinker enjoyed by many in our party.