There's something about human nature - always wanting what you can't have. In which case knowledge is dangerous. Knowing that there are alternatives makes you want something else; something more. But there is also that argument in the unknown - that we seek to know, just in case it's better, in which case we want it.
The other side this day happens to be the north side of Sydney, and more specifically, the latest Hugos venture on Manly wharf. We wonder as we walk through the ferry terminal if it will be bub-friendly as today's fellow foodie has the little one in tow. Thinking about the Kings Cross version, I'm a bit nervous to think of the little one amid all the drinking, 'beautiful people', bouncers and all, but the worry is unnecessary.
The first sighting of Hugos is all warm brown timber and open window seating - already, I want to be sitting there sipping something bubbly and eating something tasty. We round the corner with pram, seeing a mostly above nappy-aged crowd who probably wouldn't appreciate the sounds of a crying baby - and rather busy for a Wednesday afternoon, I thought. An easy step up into the entrance and a smiling waitress greets us and points us in the direction of a relatively pram-friendly space near the entrance. So far so good.
We're handed menus which consist almost entirely of pizza - we must have just missed the lunch menu as the neighbouring table has just started into their mains, which look fantastic. But there's consolation to be had in a gourmet pizza and a bottle of something.
It's quite an extensive pizza menu with a reputation to uphold. I'm not really all too worried about what pizza to order as I expect them all to be amazing, but the promise of buffalo mozzarella is a little too tempting for me to pass up. The wine list has Aussie and French bubbles, a dedicated Italian whites list, and a range of Aussie whites and reds.
We ordered the pepperoni pizza to share and a bottle of prosecco, and wait watching ferries come and go along with groups of guests. It's a cool day; grey and sprinkle threatening to grow into something heavier, but there's only a light breeze and it seems the warming heaters are on a low setting that make it perfect for lounging about. Bub isn't enthralled with the atmosphere or people watching, preferring to make mum take her for a walk around in the pram and watching the water and birds.
It's a veritable mix of people: from the casual t-shirts and shorts, families with babies, toddlers and kiddies, to glammed up young 'uns and tables of long business lunches. There's something quite open and welcoming about the place, which may well be to do with the young, white-clad waiters and waitresses who are friendly, capable, professional and just intrusive enough. Service is top notch with glasses constantly refilled and people generally happy.
I, for one, am very happy when the pizza comes to join the prosecco on our table.
Waiting for bub and mum to come back before starting is painful, as I can smell the cheesiness and pepperoni, and my will power is tested (I pretty much failed as I nicked a crispened slice of spicy pepperoni). I'm a touch disappointed in the quantity of mozzarella as I've been known to eat buffa mozzarella by the fist-sized ball. The mint seems an interesting variation on the classic insalata caprese with basil - which I could also probably eat by the bunch.
The base is perfectly thin and crisp, lightly smothered in a tomato paste. There's a good coverage of topping (my mozzarella gripe aside) and they've gone easy on the chilli as requested. The flavours meld together extremely well, and go down even better with the prosecco. It's a generous size - perfect for two not-overly large appetites and almost feels healthy.
A cheese plate arrival next door piques interest but we opt for more drinks rather than more dairy, but a definite order for next time. Relaxed, stomach full, bub asleep, we watch poor sods come off the ferry and chat into the happy noise that is the Hugos crowd. With good food, good wine and views all round, it's a good life on the other side too.