Alessandro Pavoni says it's not about the surf. So let's just put the fact that the Ormeggio chef is a keen surfer to one side for the moment and focus on the essentials: he's bringing an upmarket trattoria to Newport this summer, which is good news for Sydney's northern beaches, an area not historically overstocked with great eating options.
The menu at Sotto Sopra, which is in a new building on Barrenjoey Road, will be broken down into cold starters, fresh pasta and things that'll issue from the wood-fired grill Pavoni his partners are importing from Italy.
Think porchetta cooked Roman-style overnight, he says, bistecca Fiorentina, wood-roasted eggplant with tomato, smoked pecorino and fresh oregano, or pumpkin with honey and liquorice. Broccoli with bagna cauda. Lots of raw seafood. "Chickens and quails done cacciatore-style, served in cast-iron pots to share." There'll be fish cooked whole and the focaccia will be made with a sourdough starter.
As for the pasta, Pavoni says it's all about lightness and freshness: "chitarra, agnolotti, lasagnette, all handmade, of course, with lots of crustaceans: scampi, sea urchin, lots of fresh herbs, lemon and bottarga."
Sotto Sopra means upside-down, a reference, Pavoni says, to the fact that the kitchen is on the floor above the dining room. Key features of the 49-seat space include soaring ceilings, lots of glass and a five metre-long communal table.
Pavoni's partners in the restaurant are restaurateur Bill Drakopoulos (also his partner at Ormeggio, Chiosco and Via Alta in Willoughby), Ormeggio chef Victor Moya, and Roman-born Mattia Rossi, currently chef at Chiosco, who will move over to head the kitchen.
The restaurant should open February 2017. "It's going to look cool, and be very comfortable," says Pavoni. "I think you're going to like it."
Sotto Sopra, Barrenjoey Rd, Newport, NSW.