We had shoes on our feet, though we didn't need to. The latest news from Alessandro and Anna Pavoni is that Chiosco By Ormeggio is "barefoot friendly!" Set on The Jetty, the d'Alboro Marinas at The Spit cradled in the arm of big brother Ormeggio, the nautical blue and white of Chiosco is the next step in the evolution of Sydney eateries. It is perfect undercover open air dining, in what the Pavonis call a café.
If Sydney is going to put any label on the venue perhaps it's better to call the deli / pasta / fried / charcoal / sweets ITALIAN STREET FOOD MENU, a grazing regatta. The term, grazing seems as appropriate to the kiosk offering, as the Chiosco By Ormeggio menu is to kicking back without shoes and lazily looking out over the water.
In the morning the café offers fresh juice. By day or by night, shaken iced latte ($5), mocktails ($9.50) - watermelon mojito, strawberry & rose caipiroska, Italian lemonade - and unlimited still and sparkling water ($4) or BYO. Beers seem perfect for the setting. Long lazy beers. Or as we did, Italian beers followed by pour-your-own-wine, then limoncello - a whole bottle of it with coffees to finish the night.
But the best café news of all is the food - totally scrumptious and incredibly priced. Twenty five bucks is as much as you'll pay for any plate, and that's for six serves of either Suppli, Arrosticini or Polipetti. The same trio can also be ordered as servings of three, for fifteen bucks each.
You could travel to the Pavoni Wharf (yes I have renamed the jetty) for the bread alone. It's a terrific way to start, hot from the oven Ormeggio bakery organic sourdough, with light and ethereal house made ricotta.
There's house made pasta. The Orecchiette, mussels, bottarga, tomato, lemon - is divine in the true sense of the word and the must have recommendation from a whole menu of must haves. The pasta delightfully chewy. The sauce intriguingly complex and tantalising.
Another favourite is the Fritto misto which has you wanting more even as it passes under your nose and on to the table. Then, you taste it. With creamy mayonnaise and a wedge of lemon. And the seafood is so fresh and tasty, you feel like you're swimming with it, in the sea.
We were divided on one dish. One which I loved. And it was new to me, I admit. Pizza fritta at Chiosco is topped with a feathery passata and the Chiosco ricotta. What stumped my friend was the change in base. It was fried. Italian street food, I reckon. And yes it is finger food. And all the better for it. In easy to pick up small rounds.
A welcome addition on the charcoal menu is Corn on the cob, laden with grated pecorino, flavour filled smoky paprika, more smoke from the grill. This, like the rest of the dishes, is enough in itself to have you clambering back for more. Again. And again. And again.
This place is more than the sum of its parts: a well conceived menu that's just right for Sydney and the marina setting, big on delivery in all aspects, full of flavour and freshness, a wonderful Italian welcome and friendly service, and then there is the more than friendly price.
Desserts: Nutella Bombolone, Ricotta Cannolo, Tiramisu or 3 scoops of Gelato are $10. A selection of three Australian cheeses, $25. You could warrant a visit on the strength of any of these beauties alone.
Chiosco By Ormeggio gets my total love. A new place in Sydney - call it kiosk, café, restaurant or grazing regatta - or destination dining. With, or without shoes. Wink.