Jackie McMillan
10th Jul 2023

With subdued signage — a simple gold plate — Cricca is a warm and welcome escape from the Windsor Mall. While folks outside lined up for burgers in hoodies to counter the icy wind, we were greeted with pumpkin crostini topped with gorgonzola and Pitt Town honey in a room warmed by the blazing woodfire oven. It produces their famous fermented charcoal bread ($12) and pancetta-wrapped Merimbula oysters ($9/each) popped open over coals then dressed with kombu vinaigrette. 

Fresh oysters ($35/6) have had an update since my initial visit last year, surprising with a punch of lemon myrtle that calms to reveal eschallot, shiso and a window of brininess. White anchovies ($8/each) are another menu update, now presented on fingers of brioche with fried capers and honest house-made bread’n’butter pickles dusted with fermented chilli powder. However it’s the crumbed ball of pulled pork jowl ($8/each) crowned with ‘nduja mayo. and fingerlime that quickens my heart. Saving room for dessert, we end on lean beef tartare ($28) taken to unctuous and winter-suitable with wood-roasted bone marrow. The rich warm marrow does as well on the charcoal bread as it does on the accompanying bark. 

Talented head chef Giles Gabutina treats me to a Tuscan-inspired pre-dessert: chestnut cake (castagnaccio). Uniting the flavours of the season, it includes persimmon jam, mandarin peel and rosemary sorbet, with crunch from shards of torched meringue. An even better woodfired banana bread with walnuts and caramel then topped with earthy Jerusalem artichoke ice cream proves big enough to share. So the bill doesn’t come as a shock, remember that if you dine on the weekend, menu prices jump by ten per cent. They do include all the bells and whistles though, from an amuse bouche to petit fours.