The most popular program on Australian television right now is Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities
. It exposes the world of crime in Sydney during the 1970s and '80s. Dermott Brereton visited one of the more unusual sets. You can go there too, and while you won't see shady characters doing deals, you will be assured of some great food.
In the suburb of Kensington in Sydney's east, Grotta Capri is one of the quirkiest restaurants imaginable. It opened in 1955, modelled on the famous Blue Grotto on the Isle of Capri. It's all shells, rocks and clever lighting to successfully create a subaquatic atmosphere, and you may have seen it in Muriel's Wedding
, Son of the Mask
, The Night We Called it a Day
, Wild Side
and White Collar Blue
Now, if you are wondering what on earth Grotta Capri has to do with Underbelly, it just happened to be a favourite haunt of Robert Trimboli and his cronies, so it's starring again.
Grotta Capri is under the new management of Pietro and Sonia. They have totally renovated the cave and it's better than ever. Its menu and wine list are wide and varied, and you may fancy ordering the Barramundi Trimboli!
When Underbelly, hit the small screen last year it was the talk of the country. It played out the murky criminal underworld of Melbourne murders, drugs, sex and betrayals by so-called friends. It won six AFI awards including best lead actor awards for Gyton Grantley who played the incarcerated Carl Williams and Kat Stewart who played his wife, Roberta.
Hard drugs had hit Australia and the proceeds flooded the underworld, bringing with it hard and ruthless men and beautiful women along with police and political corruption, murders, people vanishing off the face of the earth, envy and fear. All of the seven deadly sins and then some.
It was just a matter of time before the Sydney side of that world was portrayed on the small screen. The two series have given actors challenging roles, and for viewers, well, it opens up the unbelievable world of how the other half lives.