Bianca: A casual sister restaurant to Alessandro Pavoni’s chef hatted ‘Ormeggio’ and with stunning views right up Middle Harbour. ‘Chiosco by Ormeggio’ makes for a casual yet upmarket space for a leisurely lunch, special occasion or any old regular meal.
To ease Alex back into the Sydney world after his European adventure, mum and I decided to treat him to a relaxed Friday lunch. Construction is currently taking place around the marina, so it is looking a little worse for wear. The restaurant is perched just at the end of the marina and adjacent to the more fine dining Ormeggio. Whilst it was sunny, all the plastic side panels were still in place and it quickly became a little furnace. I could see it being a pleasant spot for drinks as the sun sets on a beautiful summer’s eve.
Mum and Alex went with a glass each of white wine – perfect for the meal that was about to hit the table. I’m always the designated driver, so I had the ‘Strawberry & rose caipiroska’ $9.5 which basically embodied summer in a glass.
Alex, still on a European high, had become somewhat enamoured with the seafood on offer and brought a little of that back with him. I can never look past bread/butter/oil. Especially when it’s made in house. Such as the bread that is baked at Ormeggio and Chiosco. The ‘Pane’ – ormeggio bakery organic sourdough – extra virgin olive oil $8. Was your typical pane de casa style Italian loaf. Two thick slices served with EVOO – how can you go wrong?
Enjoying a wedge of cheese with some bread and a glass of vino in hand is one of my favourite things to do EVER!! So we couldn’t help ourselves and dove straight into the ‘Burrata’ – w/kale, capers, sourdough crumbs $19. The burrata a gorgeously rich cheese made from mozzarella and cream was silky and unctuous, with the bread crumbs adding some crunch. I don’t like capers so could have done without that addition but I understand they are present to add some salt factor. The only gripe I have about this dish is that you essentially had to order some bread to go along with it, as it was just ‘a bit of cheese’. I found myself smearing the burrata onto the pane.
The last of the entrées was the ‘Mozzarella in carrozza’ – anchovies, basil, cherry tomato, eschalot $18. So, I had this a few days earlier at a restaurant in Leichhardt and this paled in comparison. Sorry. The main fault was the amount of filling encased in the breaded mixture. It was a little on the skint side, so instead of flowing bountifully, the melted cheese just lightly spilt out. A little disappointing. The flavour was there, especially mixed with the cherry tomatoes. Alex and myself don’t like anchovies but found the salty fishy taste rather muted.
Fish seemed to be the order of the day and so the slightly intimidating ‘Polipetti’ was brought to the table. The dish, consisting of Grilled baby octopus, soft storo polenta and salsa verde $32 was beautifully tender and despite my being rather squeamish with certain ‘visual’ foods and textures enjoyed this immensely. It was hard to tell what I enjoyed more though, the combination of the polenta and the salsa verde or the octopus. All I know is that altogether, this dish sung.
We couldn’t go to an Italian restaurant and ignore one of the main food groups – the carbs!! Pasta these days, are generally relegated to Sunday night family dinners at my grandparents. Preferring to eat my weight in burgers than pasta, especially when my nonnos tomato sugo is as good as his. Chiosco has three pasta dishes on offer, my experience is that these dishes and sometimes pasta shapes are interchangeable. We had the ‘Fusilli’ –w/basil pesto and parmesan $20. Cooked al dente, this was the type of dish I could imagine even my fussy nonno enjoying. The pasta was al dente, the herby pesto shone through and everyone knows that one way to placate an Italian is by dumping a whole heap of parmesan cheese on anything and they’ll be happy. This was tasty but a little pedestrian, mum will generally knock out a pesto pasta dish mid-week that tastes as good if not a little better.
Desserts are mum and Alex’s thing so there was no way we were leaving without getting something sweet. The ‘Nutella Bombolone’ $10 were a given, the hazelnut spread was basically fed to us via IV drip growing up and we still love it to this day. These were soft and amply filled. Definitely a must order if you go gaga over the dynamic duo of doughnuts and Nutella.
And to finish up, we shall call this the palate cleanser the ‘Panna Cotta’ $10. These rarely induce any excitement in me whatsoever, unless it has chocolate it’s rarely ‘dessert’. Granted this was a lovely rendition, silky, smooth and the sorbet was useful in cutting through the richness. The highlight for me were the biscuit crumbs.
A rather delightful and civilised Friday lunch, our visit was at the end of winter going into summer and they still had all the plastic shades in place. Which did kill the vibe somewhat, certainly one to save for the summer months, light breeze, sunnies and cocktail in hand.