With all the fuss about Maurice Terzini’s newest restaurant, Neild Avenue, I realised I had neglected one of his first. North Bondi Italian Food opened in 2006, so yes, I know this post is a little more “noughties” than now. That being said, there’s nothing behind about this place. Located in North Bondi, it has stuck around since long before “the grassy knoll” became a well-used term, and fixies filled every gap a car was not. With an emphasis on produce and traditional Italian cuisine, a glass of prosecco on the deck, looking out over famous Bondi Beach could not really get much better.
Like everywhere in Sydney these days, “NBIF” does not take bookings. Instead, expect to enjoy a campari and ruby red grapefruit or 10 while you shell peanuts and people watch as your table gets seated, served and cleared again, ready for your patronage. There is nothing cheap about the place, but you get what you pay for, and you expect what you get.
North Bondi Italian Food is actually pretty low-key, despite its clientele. Staff wear overalls, shorts and sneakers, cutlery can be found accompanied by olive oil and balsamic in troughs at each table and, while decadent, the food is simple. My sister once sent me the “verdure” menu in place of recipes she wanted me to prepare for her for dinner one evening, a very good sign for a vegetarian who is fussy about food.
While entertaining interstate guests, this is the perfect place to come on a Friday afternoon. Arriving at 1pm, we don’t have long to wait before we’re seated, something I’m hugely grateful for (thankfully, running into a friend who happens to be managing at the time) as I’m with my father who is anti-queue. I’m keen to show our guests, family of Italian heritage, a really good time, and breathe a sigh of relief as they seem duly impressed at the spectacular location and menu at hand.
Habit often prevails in these scenarios, especially with the pressure of a looming waiter and the expecting eyes of the recipients as you order for a hungry table. Zucchini, Asparagus, Peas, Beans, Mint, Waxy Potatoes and Air Dried Ricotta is a tried and trusted favourite. And doesn’t let me down. My own version(s) have never quite worked out the same, but it encourages experimentation with quantities and methods which is always good.
Ricotta Basket Made Daily with Mint, Lemon, Salt Flakes, Chilli and Grilled Bruschetta is impeccably presented with charred bread stacked high and condiments on the side to-taste. As a refreshing palate cleanser we try Flat Rocket and Raw Fennel Slaw, before going in for the kill with decadent Arancini – Crumbed Spinach Risotto Balls, which I’m assured are cooked in a vegetable stock. Every dish is literally one that could be made at home, yet each has a “little something” that would be hard to replicate with an untrained technique.
The wine list here is extensive and not something I’d like to pretend I know a lot about, yet friendly all the same. Come on a weekday afternoon or evening, as weekends pack out like a Sass & Bide sale, with a similar habitué. I’m still keen to visit Neild Avenue, the latest operation from these guys, also the brains behind other such ventures as Icebergs and Guiseppe Arnaldo & Sons at the Crown in Melbourne. In the meantime, don’t forget to stop by North Bondi Italian Food on the way home from the beach as a last hurrah to summer. It doesn’t look like it has long to last!
North Bondi Italian Food
118 Ramsgate Rd, North Bondi