Sydney Times

Featured Restaurants and Wine Bars ST FOOD GUIDE

“AcquaFresca” by Pilu @Harbord Diggers Sydney

Written by Aksel Ritenis

“AcquaFresca” by Pilu @Harbord Diggers Sydney

 

AcquaFresca by Pilu is a casual Italian trattoria brought to you by renowned Italian Chef, Giovanni Pilu and his team from Freshwater. This new venture  caters for all ages – locals, families and visitors to the Northern Beaches and is now a very popular dining experience and a good alternative to Pilu itself on the beach at Harbord now known as Freshwater!

“The  new venue established by renowned restaurateur Giovanni Pilu is situated within the new Harbord Diggers Club complex. Right on the northern edge of the complex, it has both inside and outside dining options, with the latter offering the lovely views along Curl Curl beach.

“The restaurant resembles a beachside trattoria on the coast of Italy where guests will enjoy a unique Italian experience with the option of a central, communal table.”

 

I was basically here for the Pizza ,…The pizzas are rectangular and you could eat one all by yourself ,…and I did just to prove the point,… washed down by a couple of delicious Italian wines the first being a delicious Tuscan Sangiovese,..and the second a slightly spicy,..minerally Sardinian Rosso,.. .

The pizza crust  is  fluffy and light and instantly reminded me of the best italian pizzas  I have eaten in Napoli.,..the formaggio and toppings are “delish” and you can request certain toppings that you might have a  craving for-  Vegan or vegetarian pizza is definitely an option here.

 

I enjoyed viewing the action in the kitchen and I attach my photo of the heavily accented Italian pizza chef delivering me my Pizza Gamberoni,…its always good to see an open kitchen and really adds to the overall experience,… The waitresses were delightful and very professional and if I was a bit younger I would of asked their numbers LOL!

The wholesome trattoria style food is full of Italian flavours and  and quite delicious. The attentiveness and knowledge of the staff many of whom are Italian,..  is unquestioned and in terms of atmosphere the room, space and surrounding architecture have a relaxed mediterranean seaside feel .

Its a great shame that the magnificent ocean views are obscured  by the presence of numerous shiny motor vehicles parked on the coastal road between the Club and the sea but I have had heard that the Club has sought to have parking restrictions imposed on this section of coastal road to alleviate this problem.

Whilst I haven’t had the time or inclination to graze my way through the entire menu ,..I have seen many of the dishes leave the kitchen,.and We have received numerous reports from Italian food aficionados about the quality of the various dishes on the menu.

 

There is no question that the antipasti dishes on offer – salumi comprising  imported prosciutto (the Parma being a focus with a slicing machine right there on display),.so freshly sliced prosciutto is  heavenly,…and the salumi/charcuterie  are first class as in Italy,..as are the cheeses on offer also.

 

The Pastas are very authentic and served al dente as expected with delicious sauces and ingredients,..but if you have a good appetite ,..you will need more then just one pasta to satisfy your hunger.

 

The whole snapper is generally a go to dish and always a good option.. All are expertly prepared but a common criticism is they that portions are quite modest in size.You’ll need some sides to accompany this lovely fish!

The main course such as the snapper come with…. nothing but an  olive sauce so one needs to order a side salad and contorni such as roast vegetable or potatoes as an add on,.. which obviously increases the size of the bill.. however  the waitstaff generally warn diners of this!

..BUT if  your expecting a cheap oldstyle club lunch where the Pokie revenue subsidises the Dining offering,..You’ll be seriously dissapointed,..sadly  ,..those days are in the past!

Its great to hear that Giovanni is often present in the Dining space meeting and greeting his considerable following and  helping out his staff in his new venture.

The menu includes all your Italian favourites, done well – simple, tasty dishes using, fresh, seasonal and authentic ingredients. The menu is divided into an extensive antipasti list, pasta, secondi (mains), dolci(desserts) and pizza.

Many of the dishes are sharing style plates, considered to be the true Italian way to eat with family and friends.

The restaurant is fully licensed and offers a range of Italian and local wines, plenty by the glass and of course a great selection of Italian cocktails and aperitifs. Think classic negronis and a list of spritzes, along with local and artisan beers.Of course,.. Pilu restaurant itself has perhaps the best Italian Wine List in Australia and was recognized as such when Gamberro Rosso the authoritative Wine Bible of Italy awarded Giovanni Pilu the Best Wine List award a few years ago,…but it needs to be said that the wine list  at the Club,.. is simple and straightforward.

“The food is relatively affordable and the value of each dish rests in the simplicity and quality of the ingredients. The staff at Pilu actually use some elaborate old machines (macchina tradicionale) to roll fresh pasta on a daily basis, bake their own focaccia and grissini and prove their pizza dough made from organic flour for 48 hours.”

However its hard not to conclude that this is  not a cheap night,.. 

A thorough reading of the many reviews on TripAdvisor and elsewhere,.. seems to indicate that whilst the quality is unquestioned, many patrons/clients consider the portions to be relatively small and prices steep for a Club,…For instance if you opt for an entree/antipasto and then the the Fish of the Day ,..say Snapper with some shared side dishes,.. plus wine, plus dessert and coffee,.. You would expect to pay a minimum of $100.00 per head if not more,.. which is not the expectation many people have from a Leagues Club,…and here I am merely reflecting the comments readily found on social media and other review platforms, ,…

Nevertheless it must be said this is Fine Dining and one pays for quality and attention to detail,..and “some punters”  may not fully appreciate this.

Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. AcquaFresca is suitable for groups of 2-50 and reservations are accepted for lunch and dinner.

*Member discounts are generous so it is probably best for at least one person in a group to join as it will pay back on the first visit.

Group Reservations 

For all reservations they  require a credit card to secure the booking – they  do not process a deposit, however, if you need to cancel or alter your reservation, the management ask  for at least 24 hours’ notice.

*Failure to show up or cancelling within 24 hours of your booking will result in a cancellation charge of the full amount of the menu per person.

Club Membership Requirement

Please be prepared to show ID when arriving at the Harbord Diggers. All guests residing within a 5km radius of the club will need to be a member, cost is a miniscule $6pp per annum.

All groups of 12 adult guests or more are required to choose from one of the  banquet menus.

Please call 9071 8681 for all group enquiries.

OPEN FOR LUNCH AND DINNER SEVEN DAYS A WEEK

AcquaFresca is suitable for groups of 2-50 and reservations are accepted for lunch and dinner.

Address:

02 9938 1444

80 Evans Street

Freshwater NSW 2096

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

Aksel Ritenis

Publisher Sydney Times

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