After fresh ideas for meals that are healthy but still pack a flavour punch? We've got salads and vegetable-packed bowls to soups and light desserts.
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The maitre d' is your first introduction to a restaurant - they do as much to create a sense of ambience as lighting, tableware and music. And these three professionals are top of the class.
Three sommeliers, three different personalities, all first-rate guides to the lists at their establishments. We present our 2018 finalists: Caitlyn Rees, Gaving Cremming and Patrick White.
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Bondi is all abuzz with the opening of Da Orazio Pizza +
Porchetta, the long-awaited new project from Icebergs restaurateur
Maurice Terzini at the Boheme development on Hall Street. Our chief
restaurant critic, Pat Nourse, has eaten his way through a sizeable
chunk of the menu already, and has a few tips to share.
What are your picks of the carte, Pat?
It would seem churlish to dine at a restaurant called Pizza + Porchetta and not try a few slices and a bit of pig. In any case, both are genuinely excellent examples of their genres. Orazio d'Elia's pizze were fantastic when he was cooking at Popolo, and with a new oven and a gun pizza chef he recruited from Naples a few months ago, they're better than ever - puffy, charry, airy and with just the right amount of chew and texture to the base. Try the Diavoletta ($21), which comes topped with fior di latte, tomato and slices of properly spicy salami.
And the porchetta?
The focaccia con porchetta ($26) might eclipse the pizze in awesomeness. These sandwiches stuffed with juicy pork, cos and grilled eggplant are almost a meal in themselves. The pork platters, with the meat served simply with lemon wedges and a little jug of pan juices ($24 for two, $80 for four), are pretty great too, but you're probably not here if you're watching your carb intake all that closely, so get the damn sandwich. Or get both. I did.
Nothing show-stopping - tiramisù in a jar ($9), some fairly cute bomboloni filled with chocolate ($10), a ricotta-and-pear number ($11), and gelato ($10 for three scoops). The offer of watermelon ($8) is especially welcome if you've just scarfed down a few pies and half a pig.
What about drinks?
If you've been missing North Bondi Italian's list, you'll find many of your favourites here, the numbered cocktails sharing a page with Cricketers Arms lager on tap, a couple of bottled Italian beers and a short, entirely Italian and mostly inexpensive wine list, with everything available by the glass.
The prices are friendly, the service is a world away from the shambolic scene of Neild Avenue's early days, and the vibe is hot, hot, hot. Bookings are in fact taken, but on a limited basis; you can reserve tables between 5pm and 7.30pm, and then it's walk-ins after that. Da Orazio is noisy and has zero water views, and the attitude on the floor is no-nonsense, but this is the Bondi restaurant to beat this summer. Go cats, go.
Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta, 3/75-79 Hall St (enter via O'Brien St), Bondi, NSW, (02) 8090 6969. Lunch Sat-Sun from noon, dinner daily, 5pm-10pm.
Looking for more Sydney dining options? Check out our list of the best restaurants in Sydney.
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