There's no street number for Pilu at Freshwater. "On the beach" are the only directions you'll get beyond "Moore Road" on their website. It means we have no choice but to walk hopefuly toward the ocean, nodding at the passing surfies heading home in the opposite direction, hair damp with saltwater as they pad past in bare feet.
Two hat restaurant, Pilu , is perched on a small hill overlooking the beach. We climb the winding path and go up the stairs that spit us out into an open dining dining drenched with sunlight. It's elegant without feeling stuffy, like hanging out at the holiday home of the rich relatives you wish you had.
View of Freshwater Beach from the Pilu dining room
The prime tables are windowside of course, but even from our position in the inner room, we can still see the rolling waves of the ocean that imparts instant calm. Service is warm and friendly, and even as we agonise over the menu, we don't get a sense of feeling rushed. It feels like there's an army of waitstaff on the floor - it rarely takes us more than a minute to grab someone's attention.
Complimentary amuse bouche: Parmesan cream with paprika on a linseed cisp
We skip the degustation option (five courses $110 or seven course $125) and opt for the a la carte option. Two courses cost $78; three courses cost $93. Mere seconds after we order, we're presented with complimentary amuse bouche, a fluffy mound of Parmesan cream sprinkled with paprika on a linseed crisp.
Complimentary sourdough bread with whipped bottarga butter
Sourdough bread is also complimentary, enticingly warm from the oven, served with whipped butter folded with bottarga. The cured mullet roe offers spikes of tantalising saltiness against the creamy butter and the soft yet chewy sourdough.
Entree: suckling pig terrine, chickpea focaccia and salsa verde
Suckling pig terrine is not the compressed loaf we're expecting but more of a toasted sandwich of suckling pig. Chickpea focaccia, or farinata, originated in Genoa. It's soft and less doughy than the usual wheat-based focaccia, and gives a gentle nutty flavour to the soft shreds of suckling pig meat. The printed deli paper is an endearing touch.
Entree: malloreddus, beetroot, taleggio and fresh peas
You can't visit Pilu without ordering at least one of their housemade pastas. The malloreddus is one of my favourite pasta shapes, little folded shells that have been cooked so they provide a terrific chew. The beetroot-tinted malloreddus yields a intense shade of fuschia pink. This is the kind of dish I could happily eat one piece at a time, savouring each single fresh pea, each cube of fresh beetroot and languidly chewing one malloreddus at a time.
Entreee: spanner crab, guanciale, eggplant and smoked scamorza
The guanciale, eggplant and smoked scamorza is my favourite of the entrees though. It may not look particularly photogenic but this flattened disc is a tastebud bomb, the delicacy of spanner crab against the fleshy sweetness of eggplant and the fatty satisfaction of guanciale cured pork cheek underpinned by the most ridiculously tasty smoked scamorza. The trail of smoke lingered in your mouth long after you'd swallowed. This dish was incredible.
Oyster blade steak, suckling pig (we had already been served half the suckling pig and all the sausage), tomato salad and roasted potatoes
Our mains all arrive at once, the suckling pig creating the greatest fanfare with tableside service of the pork onto our plates.
Melanda Park free range oven roasted suckling pig and traditional farmhouse suckling pig sausage
Main: Melanda Park free range oven roasted suckling pig with traditional farmhouse suckling pig sausage and condiments (for two)
The suckling pig is so soft, you barely need to chew, generously layered with fat and capped off with a thin shell of crackling. Pickled radishes and sauerkraut are just the acidity you need to counterbalance the richness of the pork.
Rosemary roasted potatoes included with the suckling pig
Rosemary roasted potatoes are a deep golden hue, their crisp shells hiding a core of fluffy potato.
Heirloom tomato salad $12
We also go with the heirloom tomato salad - all sourced locally, we're told - that is vibrant with sweetness. The suckling pig is extremely rich and the acidic dressing on the fresh tomatoes is much appreciated.
Dessert: Coconut mousse, blueberries and plum meringue
We're so full after our mains that we share two desserts between the three of us. The coconut mousse is exactly the light kind of finish you're looking for after a big meal. It's fun to alternate between spoonfuls of coconut mousse, fresh blueberries and the tangy shards of plum meringue.
Dessert: Sardinian pastry with fresh ricotta and sultanas, served with warm Corbezzolo honey
Seadas is a traditional Sardininan pastry that was once only eaten at Easter or Christmas time. The deep fried pastry is beautifully blistered with bubbles, filled with fresh ricotta and sultanas and drizzled over with warm Corbezzolo honey, harvested from hives in the mountainous areas of Sardinina. A dehydrated orange slice adds a citrusy sweetness.
Italian hot chocolate served with whipped cream $7
The promise of thick Italian hot chocolate sways us all. This almost counts as another dessert, the spoonable hot chocolate feels more like a warm chocolate pudding. Sure you could drink it, but eating it with a spoon is much more fun, especially when you can take in dabs of whipped cream from the accompanying saucer.
Petit fours biscuits
Staff picked up it was my birthday and thoughtfully provided a piped chocolate message on our plate of petit fours. Very sweet!
Coconut mousse with Italian hot chocolate and cream
There's a beautiful commitment to Sardinian cuisine executed with sophisticated attention to detail. What I loved most was that even as we left the restaurant at 4pm, others were still in the midst of a lazy weekend lunch and didn't look like they were going anywhere soon. I'd definitely return. In the meantime I'm going to hunt down some smoked scamorza!
Pilu at Freshwater
On the beach, Moore Road, Freshwater, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9938 3331
Lunch: Tuesday to Sunday from 12pm
Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm
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11/19/2015 02:19:00 am