Monday, November 12, 2012

By the beach: North Bondi Italian Food

Outdoors and indoors, it's not a bad view at North Bondi Italian Food - the casual and now estranged sister restaurant of Icebergs at the other end of Australia's most famous beach.

Following a sunny and windy day out at this year's Sculpture by the Sea (see my photos here - I go from Tamarama to Bondi), nothing sounded better than a drink and a casual Italian menu aside sparkling Bondi Beach.

The view from North Bondi Italian Food, Ramsgate Avenue, North Bondi Beach
Robert Marchetti's North Bondi Italian Food (or NBIF) fills the ground floor beneath the North Bondi RSL Club, with well-heeled, -dressed and -tanned bodies filling the bar and restaurant on the early Sunday evening.

The vibe is decidedly casual but stylish with denim-shorted staff, sunnies abound, cutlery at the table, menus doubling as placemats, and good Italian sensibilities to the cocktail, beer and wines list.

The bar at NBIF
At one end of the spectrum, I've walked in with sandy thongs - sitting between tourists and families - looking out to the other end of the spectrum: a balcony of stiletto-ed clotheshorses who I'm pretty sure haven't touched the sandy beach.

Patruni e Sutta beer
The beer list featured a number of Italian imports - and the ones I hadn't seen before obviously had to be tried. The Patruna e Sutta from Sicily was a little bitter for my palate but easy-drinking nonetheless.

Menebrea Beer
The Menebrea beer from Biella in northern Piedmont was a little heavier with lovely nutty tones and is definitely my pick of the two I sampled.

Complimentary bread and olive oil
The basket of two white breads is served with NBIF's own, irresistible, fruity olive oil which sits with the cutlery set into a table cavity at every table.

Robert Marchetti's culatello
The menu listing of Robert Marchetti's salumi speaks my language. Made exclusively using black Berkshire pigs, the salami and other cured meats are equally tantalising.

We ended up choosing the culatello - cured pork like prosciutto (from the leg) but rather coming from the pig's rump.

Served tissue paper-thin, the culatello is more divine than any prosciutto I've had. Rich with a collar of fat as well as marbling, the spiced edge added pops of flavour to the gorgeously salty cured pork.

Spaghetti vongole
To mains, there is so much to choose from that I struggled somewhat and retreated to the safety of pasta. However, it appears I made the mistake of trying to go healthy, with the cheese, cream and ragu free option of spaghetti vongole.

Arriving to the table with a glass bowl over the top for the clam shells, the spaghetti was cooked simply and traditionally with white wine, garlic, parsley and olive oil, and needed a little seasoning which was available at the table.

Mouthfuls of the pasta with the small clams were fresh and so appropriate for the beach setting while the clam-less bites were a little uninspired.

Fusili carbonara
There were high expectations for the carbonara, which used long spiral fusili pasta. The first bite of pasta was a bit short of al dente while most of it was fine in the very cheesey sauce.

I imagine that it was large cubes of guanciale cured pork jowl scattered throughout but I'm not certain as my past experiences of guanciale have been more tender and deliciously fatty.

Rocket and fennel salald
Having stupidly forgone the eggplant parmigiana side, the flat rocket with fennel side dish was a must-have with the pasta mains, and seemed to have every leaf dressed liberally with oil and vinegar.

Inside NBIF
Having yet to learn to go easy on the bread in the beginning of a meal, especially when there's pasta involved later, dessert wasn't going to happen.

But just sitting, watching the Bondi world go by was sweet enough. With Sculptures ticked off for the year and a full tummy, it was the perfect prelude to summer by the beach.

North Bondi Italian Food on Urbanspoon


Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

who wouldn't want that view when dining? I think you had the perfect dinner as well that suited the scene.

Food is our religion said...

Love the view! Italian food with a view - perfect setting!

Vivian - vxdollface said...

I always try to keep the bread consumption low when I know I'm going to be picking out a pasta dish but it's always too tempting!

Annie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annie said...

this has been on my wishlist for a long time but haven't been bothered with travelling. keen to try the spaghetti vongole!

Mr C @ The CK Diary said...

Looks like a great view! I normally head to the southern end of the beach for the cafes. Maybe I should head up there some time :)

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

The carbonara looks deliciously rich. Has been a while since my last visit to NBIF - will have to return soon!

Not Quite Nigella said...

This is such a great place to go in the summer weather! :)

Tina said...

Hi Tina - Yes, it's a stunning spot for the, hopefully, nicer weather to come.

Hi Food is our religion - It sure is! Hoping for lots more return visits.

Hi Vivian - I think carbs are my weakness: bread, pasta, noodles... :/

Hi Annie - It was on mine too, and there it remains!

Hi Mr C - I'm not at Bondi often enough :( So many cafes and bars that need to be seen!

Hi Helen - It was super cheesy! Mmmmm, cheese....

Hi Lorraine - Completely agreed. So nice having a drink on the balcony :)


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