Wood-fired, technically superb Italian from the guys at Ormeggio.
MUST ORDER Pavonni’s garlic bread; Veal tortellini in parmesan consommé
AMBIANCE Overlooking a noisy highway, but relaxed inside.
WOULD I GO BACK? Not on a hot, sunny day. If a new wood-fired dish really caught my eye.
On an unlikely corner on Barrenjoey Road arcs the main dining area of Sotto Sopra, with a wall of windows looking onto the median strip and a carpark. Around this wall are couple’s tables with the classic one-bench, one-chair set-up. There are very few seats in the restaurant. It’s great if you were looking for somewhere quiet, intimate and well-lit (yay).
Upstairs is a mezzanine-style kitchen which overlooks the restaurant. The fit-out is very tasteful, with those fashionable wooden strips, and a blue and white colour scheme. It doesn’t feel beachy, but it’s easy dining (dressing up would require wearing linen and wedges, at most).
I have since walked past and noticed they have invested in special shades customised to each panel of glass around one side of the restaurant which block out the afternoon sun. On an even hotter day, it would be awful (it was in the high twenties when we went).
I’ve got standard criticisms of the tagliolino allo scoglio ($32) with mussels, prawns, parsley sauce, tomato battuta and lemon zest. Not enough sauce. Ratios of pasta to protein were way off (needed far more prawns and mussels plz). Otherwise, it was extremely tasty.
Pavoni’s garlic bread ($12.50) is reminiscent of LuMi’s. It’s super super light and airy brioche, and we gobble it up quickly. They’re shy with the garlic, but that’s fine. Not so fine was being shy on the butter.
A polpo dish of wood-fired octopus, cannellini beans and kale ($38.50) was our only sample of their wood-fired fare (despite the restaurant allegedly investing in a wood-fire oven imported from Italy for over a million dollars). The cannellini bean pureé was odd and slightly granular (similar texture to thinned-out refried beans). The waiter told us to eat it quickly because it would deflate within seconds (presumedly aerated using a siphon gun). This is a bit strange, and it wasn’t flavoursome enough to justify its presence on the plate. The octopus was probably the best I’ve ever had, cooked to perfection (not too chewy, not undercooked, not charred, but slightly smokey).
This tortellini filled with veal in a parmesan consommé ($24.50) was another stand-out dish. It was so flavoursome and confidently seasoned. The consommé was really nice, but I found its pairing with tortellini (almost like a wanton soup) would not have been as good as if they harnessed that flavour and dunked the little veal packages in a thicker, creamy cheese sauce. The tortellini were also too al dente for my liking, but I guess they’re scared it will continue to cook in the consommé and get soggy.
It’s hard for a crudo to impress me, because I’ve had so many good ones (it’s one of my go-to orders whenever I see it on a menu). This crudo di ricciola of raw kingfish with pistachio, yellow peaches and radish ($22.50) was average. Peaches aren’t the best combo.
My dad lives in Newport, and says this restaurant always tends to be fairly empty. I hope it stays here, as the Northern Beaches lacks good dining destinations (although not as in need as the North Shore). With the arrival of Bert’s, I’m not confident they’ll stay open. You can go to Chiosco in Mosman for their garlic bread.
Next time: More from the wood-fired oven
Visit date: 31 March 2018
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