There is only one word to describe the dining experience at Pilu at Freshwater – outstanding!
It starts from the moment your eyes set upon the view that is Freshwater Beach, to the easy charm of the old house where the restaurant resides, to the professional and personable staff, and finally to the Sardinian influenced meals which are so beautifully presented, flavoursome, and authentic!
It has received 2 Chef’s Hats awarded by the Sydney Morning Herald, Good Food Guide.
I have been fortunate enough to dine here twice – once for an intimate wedding, and just recently with the whole family to celebrate my big brother’s birthday. We all ordered the midday degustation (7 courses without matching wines) which lasted a relaxing 4 hours.
It was such a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon –feasting! There is a great selection of local and imported Italian wines to try if you are interested in a bottle or two.
The restaurant sits in a beautiful old house that permits seating on a sweeping verandah overlooking the ocean and in two larger rooms. It oozes holiday beach house feel which adds to the relaxed atmosphere.
The service is faultless and extremely friendly. The team member serving our table was very considerate and attentive towards our little ones – Freya and my nephew, Xavier. She actually brought Xavier into the kitchen when not busy to meet Mr Pilu.
Here is a little taste of the 7 course degustation menu:
The first course was scampi with char grilled baby corn, grapefruit and bottarga butter. Bottarga is dried, pressed grey mullet or tuna roe that can be shaved, sliced or grated. It adds a rounded rich and savoury taste to whatever ingredient or dish it is enhancing and in this case, the butter. I’m not a big fan of grapefruit but it worked well with the other components. Whilst simple in design, this dish was full of texture, flavour and technique.
This meal was so tasty. A percorino cheese comsomme (a comsomme is a clear soup made from richly flavoured stock that has been clarified), with hand rolled fregola (a type of pasta from Sardinia that looks like chunky couscous), zucchini flowers and mint oil. It was mouth-watering. The soup was so flavoursome and you could taste the authenticity of the initial rich stock. I’m presently salivating as I’m reminiscing and typing this. The little ones loved it as well even though they had already eaten their pasta. It was a heart warming dish.
The third course was malloreddus pasta, also know n as Sardinian gnocchi. These pasta shells are traditional ribbed and made from semolina and water although Pilu’s variety included grounded fennel. Supplementing the pasta was Kurobuta pork ragu and fennel seeds. I enjoy the flavour of fennel but for those that don’t (like my sister-in-law); this dish is not for you! The pasta was cooked just the way I like it; with a bite. The sauce lying in wait was thick and rich and luscious! It was another fantastic hearty rustic dish.
Beautifully presented and delicious – the mulloway fish (ombrina in Italian) was cooked over coals and balanced on top of pieces of cooked eggplant and pimento peppers. I was pleasantly surprised by the combination of mulloway and eggplant. Who would have thought that these two worked well together? But they do! In addition the sweet chilli and seafood broth completed the meal. Towards the end we were all diplomatically scooping every last drop of the broth with spoons rather than drinking directly from our plates!
The free range roasted suckling pig (served on the bone) melted in your mouth. The thin crispy skin on the outside had a light taste to it. However, I didn’t enjoy the condiments that accompanied the pork. The three thin slices of poached apple were fine, but the scoop of orange verde and green salsa verde were dry and overpowered the pork rather than complimented it. Furthermore, the appearance of the dish was bland.
The start of the desserts was blood plum granita with poached nectarine and buttermilk served in trendy open jars. It was a fantastically refreshing. I love a great granita and this blood plum flavour was exceptional! Nestled beside it was a vanilla bean flavoured buttermilk foam – aerated to create a light fluffy texture. This worked well against the texture of the crushed ice granita and poached nectarines. Additionally, there was a great balance of flavours with the sourness of the buttermilk, the tartness of the blood plum and the sweetness of the nectarines and vanilla bean. It was a great beginning for the desserts.
I love pastry desserts like this, especially with ricotta. This was a Sardinian fried pastry filled with ricotta and sultanas, served with warm honey from Millefiori (a honey produced in the region of Tuscany, Italy). It was scrumptious! The crunchy texture of the outer fried pastry compared to the soft fluffy ricotta and sultana center was dreamy. This along with the drizzle of honey helped break through the rich fried flavour of the pastry. The serving size was extremely generous (perhaps too big) but appreciated all the same.
We all had a macchiato to finish and it was the best I’ve ever had at a restaurant. Usually bitter, but not this one – no sugar required. It was smooth and creamy and a perfect way to end our experience at Pilu at Freshwater.
The value for money is fantastic – $120 for the 7 courses ($195 with matching wines) or 5 courses for $105 ($160 with matching wines).
If you are looking for a great restaurant to take a loved one or to share with friends or family then I recommend you venture out to this gem at Freshwater.
Pilu at Freshwater