The latest instalment from star restaurateur Maurice Terzini may well be his best yet…
And that’s what happens when you put Popolo’s Orazio D’Elia in the kitchen and catch Maurice Terzini at full power. The difficulties of 2012/13 (breaking away from business partner Robert Marchetti and the closure of NBIF and Neild Avenue) are behind the hospitality dynamo. Which means all that energy is going into Da Orazio: the home of this most epic of sandwiches.
Though the original design brief was ‘Rick Owens come to Bondi’ the reality is a little more ‘Dion Lee in a sarong’. Some of the sturdy white tables – seven shades of white, according to Terzini – are dressed with bright patterned cloths. Others remain bare. They’re all full.
A big bright orange metal service trolley sits partly obscured in one part of the pared-back room, a wooden crucifix hangs in another. One wall is painted musk-stick pink, another is lined with blonde bar-style seating, which looks out over Orazio’s little herb garden out the front of the restaurant. Tiny metal lamps hang here and there like friendly insects. The daily special is scrawled in Sharpie on thick white paper, stuck unceremoniously on the wall with masking tape. It’s prosciutto and melon, by the way.
The result isn’t so much high concept as smart downsizing. A lot of the room is taken up by a huge roaring pizza oven and an open kitchen where Orazio is slicing porchetta, serving up juicy arrosticini (tiny little lamb skewers from Terzini’s home region of Abbruzzo) by the fistful and antipasti like the fresh, creamy ricotta and silky soft rounds of mortadella. All to be eaten with salty, crisp slices of schiacciatina – the pizza bread that’s now occupying our every waking thought.
This is a menu you’ll want to eat all of, either in one sitting with ten friends or ten sittings with one. There might be a little FOMO when you see a list of pizze, each better looking than the last. And they really are excellent, the bases are that magic mix of soft yet charred and blackened, beautifully seasoned and smoky.
The diavoletta sees super spicy salami thinly sliced over fior di latte, and tomato. The reginella is Orazio’s ode to the Margherita: tomato, fior di latte and basil leaves – it's fresh, light and simple. But it might be the caponatina that thrills us most. Here, fior di latte is melted over the bottom with a fresh, slightly acidic relish of zucchini, capsicum, eggplant and tomato. The zinger here is the crumbly chunks of raw cheese that pop with every bite.
We’re probably more keen to order more savoury (it’s so good!) over sweet but if it’s essential, go the bomboloni – little doughnuts dusted with icing sugar and filled with warm chocolate. Or there's always a simple plate of watermelon if you're after a quick palate cleanser.
A smart drinks list on the back of the menu is made to be easy and delicious, just like everything else here. There are jugs of Terzini house wine (red, white, pink) or choose something from the all-Italian list like the Cantina Gallura vermentino. Or just drink a Spritz.
A fun and exciting as it is at Da Orazio, it also gets a little hot and loud after a few rich and salty snacks. Our advice? Order lightly and go back a lot.
Da Orazio: it's just a restaurant staffed by nice guys who want you to have a good time.
|Venue name:||Da Orazio Pizza and Porchetta|
3/75-79 Hall St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Fri 5pm-midnight; Sat midday-midnight; Sun midday-10pm|