That's Amore 2022 Best Dish of The Year

Rebecca Varidel
30th Dec 2022

Calita Mexican Restaurant provides Sydney with a most delightful Bondi Beach setting. The capacity of the tiny airy restaurant is nearly doubled by its expansive window bar seats and casual outdoor tables chairs and umbrellas which overlook the north Bondi Beach lifeguard station from across the main Campbell Street. The Calita shabby chic beach decor is most welcoming, and even more so are the friendly professional and attentive staff. The restaurant naming seems appropriate when you learn that Calita is tiny beach in Spanish.

As Calita is a marisqueria (Mexican seafood restaurant) the usual menu includes innovative delicious dishes such as Blue Swimmer Crab tostadas, Marlin Crispy Tacos Pescadillas (Pico de gallo, cabbage, lemon crema avocado mousse Habanero mojo and mango relish), The Governor’s Tacos (XO prawns, Oaxaca cheese and salsa poblano) and Fish and Chips (Flathead, Tecate batter, shoestring fries, jalapeño tartar sauce). It's a young and laid back crowd that also sips the amazing cocktails, that are mostly as you might expect from a Mexican space tequila and mecal based.

All of the Milpa Collective venues seven venues have delighted and impressed since Carbón was established in 2017 by Mexican-born chef Pablo Galindo Vargas and Chilean co-owner Liber Osorio. Calita and siblings Carbón restuarant, high end Santa Catarina, with Londres 126, Taqiza, Sonora and La Palma have all gained our trust as reliably enjoyable Sydney hospitality.

So from all of 2022 how did Calita deliver and Italian dish Lobster Ravioli in Lobster Bisque as our dish of the year?

Earlier this month Italian Chefs, Stefano Marano and Andrea Sonnante took over Calita for two Wednesday nights with a joint pop up That's Amore.

Getting started with the $75 per persons set menu, Calita That's Amore served a special cocktail created by Santa Catarina's Head Bartender Luna Ercoli on arrival. Already guests were dipping into the Shangri La of smooth with this Fancy Negroni: Gin, Bitter Bianco, Bergarmot, Prosecco. Indeed it was a very fine aperitivo.

Once the food arrived we were hit with wow from the get go, blown away by the chefs' understanding of flavours and textures, the fusion of Italian and Mexican dishes. Taking Mexican traditional dishes such as Taco and filling it with the unctuous Heaven of pulled ox tongue was pure genius, and amazingly crafted. Looked good. Ate well. And happiness prevailed.

Calita That's Amore Menu
Endive, Parmesan Cream, Pangrattato, Epazote
Tostada, Stracciatella, Tuna, Radish, Corn
Beef Tongue Taco, Jalapeño Sauce, Pineapple, Pickled Onions
Slipper Lobster Ravioli, Bisque, Ancho Oil
Oxheart Tomato Salad, Tomatillo Salsa & Coriander, Anchovies

Yet the dish not only of the night, but of this year 2022 was seemingly simple. Each of the components however can be challenging to perfect, as they were here, and the individuals combined to a greater sum of a truly exquisite dish. And our Sydney Scoop Dish of the Year. That Lobster Ravioli, the perfect al dente hand crafted pasta, excellent wheat, exquisitely kneaded and cooked, the lightness of the divine filling, and topped. Yes, bisque is complex and difficult and this example was perfect. Perhaps not an innovative dish, but after a year of mediocre and sadly even unpalatable, to meet a craftsman on his plate of perfection was the highlight of the closing year.

On the shared pop up concept, Chef Stefano Marano notes “That’s Amore is a collaboration between two chefs that love both the food of their own country, origins, heritage and roots but also share a great interest and curiosity for other food cultures."

The passion for culinary arts, curiosity and thirst for knowledge of new and different cuisine runs deep with Stefano Marano, having worked in restaurants all around the world. He brings his expertise from Michelin starred restaurants in Naples and Manly Pavillion to his time as Head Chef at The Apollo to the table. His That’s Amore pop up at Calita with Sonnante will be his last project before he takes part in an exciting new venture in early 2023. Tapping the table impatiently to find out where we can go for more.

Andrea Sonannte will also add his expertise to the pop up at Calita through his decade of experience in professional kitchens in Sydney. Sonnate was originally from Brescia in Northern Italy and moved to Sydney to pursue new adventure at venues such as 10 William St., Fratelli Paradiso and was the former Co-Owner of Sagra Restaurant in Darlinghurst.