“It’s the perfect spot for summer. Settle waterside for sea-fresh oysters, light and bright burrata with peaches, and a sweet-savoury watermelon dish with goat’s cheese.
International travel is back – but with Europe in the depths of winter, languid summer days on Italian shores are still a way off. In the meantime, we have new Woolloomooloo Finger Wharf restaurant Il Pontile, a love letter to the regional cuisines of Italy, smack bang on Sydney Harbour.
It’s the work of fourth-generation Italian restaurateur and Naples native Mario Percuoco – the son of legendary Sydney restaurateur Armando Percuoco, of Buon Ricordo.
“It’s always been my dream to open a restaurant on a wharf. It reminds me of where I grew up in Naples,” says Percuoco. “This is my first restaurant on the water, and the menu will reflect where I come from.
Settle into an outdoor table with a plate of fresh oysters to start, and follow it up with house-cured ocean trout, decorated prettily with edible flowers. Steamed mussels with zesty lemon and punchy chilli oil definitely deserve your attention, while peaches and hazelnut add texture and brightness to a glistening sphere of burrata. (It’s also the perfect summer lunch dish.)
Sure to be a star of the menu is the anguria e caprino: a chunk of watermelon drizzled with molasses, then topped with goat’s cheese, for a salty-sweet contrast. Another a soon-to-be-hit? The seafood-heavy linguine, baked in parchment paper that’s opened at your table.
Like the food menu, the wine list traverses Italy’s regions – from Lombardy to Friuli, Sicily and Abruzzo – occasionally punctuated with Australian and French drops.
The venue sits in the space last occupied by Italian eatery The Amalfi Way. And there’s no trace left of the diner’s blue, yellow and white colour scheme, after a refurb by local firm Bang Architecture. Now, the room lets the waterfront location do all the talking. Neutral tones are a running theme, with parchment-coloured walls and deeply comfortable brown leather seats. Arched doorways divide the light-flooded space, while bi-fold doors make the al fresco dining area feel like a continuation of the dining room. A glassed-in wine cellar is on show for all to see in the middle of the room, while a chef’s table – a rarity among Italian restaurants in Sydney – offers space for small groups to enjoy dishes chosen and prepared by Percuoco.
S2/6 Cowper Wharf Roadway, Woolloomooloo 1800 517 203”