Sydney diners are often confronted by the reality that all waterfront restaurants sacrifice quality on the plate for views of the harbour – and patrons paying considerably for the privilege. Quite often that is true, but on Sydney’s North, Ormeggio at the Manly Spit Junction sees that sentiment blown right out of the water. Headed by Alessandro Pavoni of Masterchef fame, Ormeggio offers outstanding contemporary Italian fare that matches its luxury surrounds. In part this is due to the kitchen staff in Pavoni’s kitchen who are every bit as authentic as the food he serves, with all striving towards achieving a menu that is daring yet authentic.
Entrees include a slow-cooked cuttlefish and rice puree, laid out splendidly like a checker board (pictured above) and allowing the gentle subtlety of tomato dust to penetrate the palate but never overwhelm it. The taglioine with anchovy and bottarga, immaculately spindled onto the plate where it seats perfectly seasoned scampi is outstanding in its simplicity. Made daily with the finest ingredients shipped in from Italy, except for fresh produce sourced locally, the unmistakable texture of fresh pasta – all too often overlooked in Sydney, is an example of Pavoni’s attention to detail combined with a genuine desire to provide a superior dining experience.
Mains include a crispy skin duck breast, served with witlof and poached green apple (a main course version of the poached pear) offering a mouthwatering contrast of fine textures, while the flavours of the barramundi cooked in a prawn crust and watercress puree seem to leap right out of Sydney harbour and straight onto your plate.
The rugged menu boasts 14 separate dishes but, not to be outdone by any other restaurant south of Rome, it offers a traditional Brescian spit roast – duck, quail and pork cooked for five hours, and succulent enough to rival anything served by the Brazilian BBQ restaurants ubiquitously springing up all over Sydney. Do be sure to book a couple of days ahead for this dish, though.
While wicked desserts such as a caramelised rhubarb budino (pictured above), hazelnut sable, and chocolate and coffee pudding with caramel gelato are enough to require confession and penance, the real post-dining standout at Ormeggio is the wine list. Boasting an impressive list of bottles from all around Italy – part wine list, part guide book – it features a brief but captivating history and geography of Italian wine regions, enough to turn an amateur wine enthusiast into an aficionado in an instant. The list is by no means decorative. The Mamete Prevostini Sassella is a flavoursome drop with an understated fruity finish and a smooth after
Striving for a balance of modern and authentic cuisine, Allesandro Pavoni and his elite team of Italian chefs have created a first-rate dining experience right on the water of middle harbour that really does demonstrate why this chef and his food has created a whirlwind of interest and media attention. One meal at Ormeggio is enough to show it is entirely deserved.
Ormeggio is situated at d’Albora Marina, The Spit, Manly/Mosman.
Bookings on (02) 9969 4088 or visit www.ormeggio.com.au for more information.