G04 The Palms, 316-324 Barrenjoey Rd, Newport
02 9997 7009
Alessandro Pavoni is turning things upside down in Newport this summer with Sotto Sopra, the beachside town’s newest Italian trattoria.
Partnering up with hospitality legends Bill Drakopoulos and Victor Moya, Alessandro has created a casual incarnation of his other restaurants, Ormeggio at the Spit and Chiosco by Ormeggio. At the Newport venue, the same attention to detail and quality is on full display, with Italian inspired produce-driven dishes delivered in a relaxed yet sophisticated setting.
Chiosco by Ormeggio’s Head Chef Mattia Rossia joins Alessandro as both a partner and Head Chef of Sotto Sopra, creating a menu that celebrates the art of wood-fire cooking. An imported oven is the heart of the restaurant, transforming seasonal produce into dishes such as eggplant parmigiana, dry-aged beef fiorentina steak, and buffalo ricotta, baked to melty goodness with green beans, herbs and lemon.
However, it’s not just during service that the oven will be firing. Roman-style porchetta is slow-cooked overnight, and served with fennel pollen, rosemary, salsa verde, burnt bran bun and picked red cabbage. With a limited allocation, it’s a meal best to order ahead.
Sotto Sopra translates to ‘upside-down’, a cheeky reference to the surprises found in the traditional Italian menu. While you go searching for the left-of-centre dishes, nibble on wood-oven-baked schiacciata (Tuscan style focaccia), served with sundried tomato and homemade whipped ricotta. Share a plate of smoked prosciutto with black figs, truffled honey and wood-fired flat bread; or keep the carpaccio of Albacore tuna all to yourself.
The homemade pasta is all about the lightness and freshness, with orecchiette, gnocchi and ravioli amongst your options. The latter is filled with oxtail vaccinara and topped with pine nuts, sultanas, celery, butter, sage and chocolate.
Dessert, of course, includes tiramisu as well as a caramelised mango tart with lime gelato for two. If you prefer to finish with cheese, a choice of four, including gorgonzola and taleggio, are served with dried fruit, compote and lavosh.
In true Italian style, the meals are designed to share, but if the decision is too hard for your group, the generous chef’s sharing feast will have you sorted. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to enjoy it on the five-metre-long handmade communal dining table. The restaurant is fully licensed, with a wine list offering a unique selection of Italian varietals to complement your meal. Best of all, BYO is available every Tuesday if you’d prefer to bring your own tipple.
The upside down reference also applies to Sotto Sopra’s design – the kitchen and bar overlook the dining area, which spills down to the ground floor level and out to the pavement. It’s the perfect setting for balmy summer evenings by the beach – after all, who could say no to a big bowl of pasta and bottle of wine?