Manly Pavilion review: waterfront dining with extraordinary service

Not sure if you should book the Manly Pavilion? We sent Cathy Wagstaff to review the waterfront dining establishment. Here’s what you need to know.

Quick tips

Restaurant: Manly Pavilion
Address: West Esplanade, Manly
Dining style: Traditional Italian. Vegetarian and gluten-free options available
Perfect for: Long lunches, special occasions and events
Catering for: Couples, families, large groups, private dining and celebrations, small or large
Private dining room: Seating up to 24 guests. Plus, there’s a large function centre ideal for weddings or corporate events
Dish to dine for: Lobster Mornay. Try a half lobster as an entree.
Price range: Entrees $15-$32; pasta $23-$44; mains $35-$48. Set menus can be arranged for groups of 10 or more
Dress code: Smart casual/elegant
Wow factor: The waterfront dining offers spectacular views, while staff are extraordinarily knowledgeable and friendly


Manly Pavilion review

Family-run Manly Pavilion sits on the water’s edge in a beautifully restored heritage building.

The generous Mediterranean-style outdoor terrace, with its million-dollar views, has both table and sumptuous lounge seating.

The interiors are bright and contemporary, delivering a cosy yet elegant ambience.

Take a walk around and you’ll discover private dining areas, an open fire and cosy sofas to relax in as you enjoy the bar menu and cocktails.

Manly Pavilion review: Cocktails
Cocktails on the deck

A force to reckon with

If your dining criteria is world-class views, a choice of indoor and outdoor seating on the water’s edge, a delicious menu and the best cocktails in Manly – why have you not been here yet?

This was the question we asked ourselves during our (very) long Sunday lunch. Five decadent hours, in fact.

From the warm welcome and first drink at the bar, you feel like you are part of the family.

Julia Lorenti is a hostess extraordinaire. By the end of our lunch we have incredible respect for her and the entire team. Manly Pavilion’s executive chef Alessio Rago has enormous passion and sous chef Manuel Bellanti has a deft hand. General manager Adam Polly, is almost famous in Manly having spent 20+ years as the face of Hugos.

Even on a rainy day, the outlook is captivating with yachts gliding on the harbour and green and gold ferries ploughing to and from the city to Manly wharf.

When the sun is shining you can expect spectacular sunsets with radiant splashes of colour reflecting into the ocean.

On the menu

After we are seated at our table, a colourful and aromatic parade of well-presented dishes float past. It makes choosing from the menu difficult as they all look delicious.

Our very attentive server, Rafael, explains the menu selections and shares his knowledge of the extensive list of imported and local wines. We are here to try and review the new the Manly Pavilion summer menu.

To start, we select three entrees.

Manly Pavilion’s Gamberoni Alla Griglia, grilled king prawns, split and seared with garlic and chilli, are fresh and full of flavour.

The Burrata is served in true Italian style with sweet heirloom tomatoes, Sicilian green olives and basil leaves. This dish transported me back to savouring this in Lake Como. 

Our third choice was the Capesante, seared scallops with a perfect golden-brown crust served on a bed of green pea puree, with red cabbage and pistachio salad. These were sweet and fleshy and full of flavour.

We chose a crisp Cape Mentelle Semillon Sauvignon Blanc that complemented these dishes well.

Julia, the events and PR manager drops by to see how we’re enjoying our entree and suggests pasta for our next course.

We select two small servings, Ravioloni di Zucca, pumpkin and goats cheese ravioli prepared in burnt butter with sage, hazelnuts and topped with shaved parmesan.

The presentation was skilful and the combination of ingredients made this an unforgettable dish.

Our second pasta was Malloreddus ai Gamberi, a baby shell saffron pasta with garlic and chilli prawns, with a zucchini puree and basil & pine nut sauce prepared like a pesto creating a very creamy flavour. 

At this stage, we need a break before we can order mains and we consider whether we have room for any more food.

Impeccable service

We relax for an hour or so sipping on our wine, enjoying the view and people watching. 

Interestingly we note that the vibe in Manly Pavilion is around the cocktail menu. Our fellow guests seem to be choosing multiple cocktails over bottles of wine.

The Pavilion’s Pink Martinis and Espresso Martinis are the most popular picks. 

Rafael our server is very attentive even though every table was full.

Each time we came close to emptying a glass of wine or sparkling water he was at our side with a refill, checking whether we would like to order anything else

Julie drops by again to check what we would like for mains and we feel that we only have room for dessert.

Bistro at Manly Pavilion
Bistro at Manly Pavilion © Sami JJ Roberts

Mains and dessert

She convinces us to share a half lobster mornay served with a rocket, pear, and parmesan salad. Julie added this dish to the menu as a trial and the Manly Pavilion ordered enough for three days.

It sold out in the first lunch. 

The lobster is well priced at $44 for half and $80 for a full. The half sits in the same price range as the Grass Fed eye fillet at $48 and the snapper at $42.

However, the half is not a substantial main, we suggest this as an entree.

The food at Manly Pavilion is of an incredibly high standard not just for Manly but on an international level.

For dessert, we recommend a tasting plate. It includes Traditional Tiramisu made to Chef Alessio’s mother’s authentic recipe, Crème Brulee with passionfruit and white chocolate, and Vanilla Gelato surrounded by Deconstructed Pavlova all presented beautifully by Sous Chef Manuel.

Julia recommends Espresso Martinis to go with dessert.

She orders one for herself and joins our table to discuss the team and the family behind Manly Pavilion. Shortly we are joined by Chef Alessio and Adam Polly. 

Main dining room at Manly Pavilion
Main dining room at Manly Pavilion © Sami JJ Roberts

Passionate chef

Executive Chef, Florence national, Alessio Rago – aka Alex – has an illustrious background having worked at many well-known restaurants and resorts around the world. Most recently he was at the Westin Hotel Sydney until the takeover by Fullerton Hotels. He comes from a family of restaurateurs and food is in his blood. It is his life force and his utmost passion. 

To quote my dining companion Karen Marvel: “You really can taste the love that has gone into preparing every dish”.  

All ingredients at Manly Pavilion are sourced from the best local suppliers. whenever possible.

They use only the freshest ingredients – the best prosciutto, the best locally made burrata, Alex says.

“Taste and presentation and the highest quality, freshest ingredients are the most important to me,” he says.

“My most valued ingredients are olive oil, semolina and mascarpone.” 

The Verdict

The price point is spot on. It is exceptional value and compares favourably with other restaurants in Manly of a comparable standard.

The Manly Pavilion is a popular venue. It caters for those that would like to enjoy a bar menu and bespoke cocktails on the Mediterranean inspired terrace and for guests that would like a full fine dining experience.

This establishment is stiff competition for other quality Manly restaurants.

Find out more: manlypavilion.com.au or phone (02) 9949 2255

Read More:
Why you should try Sydney’s Bondi to Manly coastwalk
6 places to drink and dine in Sydney

Dinner with a view at Manly Pavilion
Dinner with a view © Sami JJ Roberts

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