Never trust a restaurant with a view. Next time you’re walking along Darling Harbour or Circular Quay, for the love of god don’t get sucked in by those tourist traps and their seductive ways. But as with anything, there are exceptions. Quay at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay is a prime example – it is one of the best restaurants in the country. You can also add Pilu at Freshwater to the list.
Situated overlooking the picturesque Freshwater Beach, Pilu has had diners swooning over its fine Italian food for years, having held two chef’s hats in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide since 2005. Seems like a nice way to embrace Italian food, albeit with a Sardinian twist.
Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean and its food has influences from Arabs, Phoenicians, Romans and Spaniards.
Unfortunately we didn’t score a table in the main dining room overlooking the beach on a perfect summer’s day, but that is quickly forgotten. The service is attentive, knowledgeable, friendly and not stifling.
Diners must have the three-course menu on the weekends ($89 per person) and we choose a ricotta, Sardinian olives, Pilu salami platter (pane e ricotta con salumi $19) to begin. It really is the perfect introduction to Sardinian food. The platter comes with Sardinian-style bread known as pane carasau. It’s remarkably thin and crispy and goes well with the soft ricotta but I’d prefer a couple of slices of sourdough bread. The house-made salami is great – not too heavy on the palate and moreish.
The spaghettoni with walnuts, calamari, crispy Sardinian bread and Pilu bottarga is brilliant. The slithers of calamari are the same thickness and size as the perfectly al dente spaghettoni, which creates a beautiful result on the plate. It’s salty, savoury and delightful. Easily my highlight of the meal.
Pilu at Freshwater DOES have an incredible view and food to match as well. Italian food isn’t just spaghetti Bolognese and margherita pizzas.