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Chef Mitch Orr
Photograph: Anna Kucera

ACME's Mitch Orr is cooking casual Italian at Freshwater Beach

A cheap hack for one of Sydney's best regarded fine Italian diners

Written by
Emily Lloyd-Tait

Since closing his Potts Point restaurant, ACME, in mid 2019, Mitch Orr has been keeping busy, heading up the kitchen at Bondi's CicciaBella and also sharing his knowledge with a series of lock-down friendly Instagram tutorials that walked you through his renegade approach to pasta.

Now he is cooking by the sea once again, but this time in the city's north, where he has taken over the nighttime offering at Barretto, the casual small bar underneath Pilu at Freshwater.

Baretto Nights are a weekend affair, running from 4.30-9pm Fridays through Sundays,so you can towel off, get dressed and mosey over for a plate of salami with pickled chilli, hash brown bites with tallegio cheese, fried calamari or a springtime riff on bruschetta with peas and edamame. Like the dining room upstairs, here the wine list is a an all-Italian, mostly Sardinian, by-the-glass party. Or you can cool off with cocktails or imported beers.

It might be Giovanni Pilu's venue, but this is Mitch Orr's food so you can expect a few surprising Asian elements sneaking their ay into the classic wine bar fare, like a stracciatella and corn spiked with furikake, Japan's ultra-savoury seaweed and sesame seasoning. Yellowfin tuna might get all dressed up with a bonito mayo; and Sardinia's gnocchi/pasta hybrid, malloreddus, comes sauced with spanner crab and tomato butter. For dessert, grapefruit granita, potato ice cream and Itaian meringue.

The menu changes regularly but you can rest assured it'll have Orr's famous riffs on pasta, with a whole lot of Sardinian influence. Pilu is definitely a dining experience every Sydneysider should treat themselves to, but for a more casual affair, book a spot at Barretto after hours and pretend your weekend beach visit is just a super compacted European holiday to the Mediterranean sea.

Need a drink? Here are Sydney's best wine bars.

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