The Bistro at Manly Pavilion

Having undergone a number of reincarnations since it was built in 1933, the iconic heritage listed building Manly Pavilion seems to have found its true calling as the home of The Bistro at Manly Pavilion.

The space

Located on Manly Cove’s Federation Point, the restaurant on the top floor enjoys one of the most stunning waterfront locations in Sydney, with uninterrupted, panoramic sea views and a spacious, flowing indoor space with high ceilings, white walls with high arches, polished floors, plenty of natural light and floor-to-ceiling windows which open onto an expansive wrap-around deck.

The interiors are elegant and sophisticated, yet understated and relaxed with wood and velvet furnishings in a palette of brown, moss green and indigo blue giving off a cool, retro vibe. The entire floor has been thoughtfully utilised, with different sections and spaces serving different purposes. The fireplace lounge offers an intimate space for couples and small groups, the bar area looking out towards the ocean is an ideal spot for after-work drinks, a dining room with a long communal table is great for group dining, and the Mediterranean-feel outdoor deck is no doubt the place to be seen on sun-drenched afternoons that lead well into balmy summer nights.

Meanwhile, below the bistro on the lower level, is the Manly Pavilion Ballroom – an elegant event space for up to 220 guests which sits right over the water, with waves gently lapping below. Opened in November last year, it has been beautifully refurbished with the utmost care to its unique, original characteristics.

The chef

At the helm is Tuscan-born chef Andrea Corsi, who has brought with him a wealth of international experience to the bistro. After starting his career in Italian cuisine, chef Andrea expanded into French cuisine, working in the UK before moving to Australia and joining renowned chef Giovanni Pilu at Pilu at Freshwater at Cala Luna, which led to the two chefs opening and co-owning Cavallino. During this time, chef Andrea also became a Certified Sommelier.

The menu

“Producing food and drinks that successfully complement the location is a great delight and I love giving a little twist of Italy in this most Australian of settings,” chef Andrea says.

Creating a menu that is uncomplicated and appeals to a broad range of palettes, chef Andrea keeps the focus on fresh, seasonal produce while brining rustic Italian and Mediterranean influences to the forefront. Seafood features prominently on the menu, with specials changed daily to reflect the best selection of that day.

Meanwhile, the drinks menu features an excellent selection of local and international beverages, but the real highlight here are the expertly crafted cocktails, freshly prepared at the bar.

The food
With a great selection of meat, fresh seafood and pasta dishes, making a choice on what to order is a tough job!

We opt for the antipasto to start, which comes with Serrano prosciutto, salumi, pate, ricotta and marinated vegetables, with a side of crusty bread. Rustic and delicious, its perfect for sharing and is great matched with a fresh cocktail. The alternative antipasto is a seafood selection featuring salmon tartare, octopus, oysters, mussels and calamari. Being the seafood lover that I am, I immediately add this to my list for “next time,” but for now satisfy the craving with our second chosen starter – seared scallops. Tender and sweet, they taste amazing with the Jerusalem artichoke puree they are served on, topped with a drizzle of prawn oil and hazelnuts for a nice crunch.

For our main course, we choose the grilled spatchcock, sweet and tangy with a nice hit of spice from the ginger and chili dressing, while the broccolini and rosemary potatoes give the dish balance. While spatchcock can often end up being dry, this one is tender, juicy and full of flavour.

The Blue Eye Trevally fillet didn’t disappoint either. Cooked to perfection with a crispy skin, it melted in the mouth and came with a medley of colourful vegetables including broccolini, baby potatoes, cherry tomatoes drizzled with a burnt butter and baby caper salsa, really bringing out those rustic Italian flavours through again.

Dishes were nicely presented – no fuss and over-exaggeration here, allowing quality ingredients to speak for themselves, and portions were perfect for sharing between two.

The verdict
Relaxed, unpretentious bistro dining at its finest, The Bistro at Manly Pavilion fits in perfectly with the Manly scene, offering a relaxed place to gather with family and friends over a menu which has something for everyone.