One glance at the menu and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Pino Nocera just delivers ordinary Italian classics.
After you cut into your huge, puffy Calzone Pulcinella ($22.90) revealing creamy white contents wrapped in tasty, chewy dough topped by fresh tomato and shaved Parmesan, you’ll be a convert. A neighbouring lady diner seemed daunted by hers but recovered to pose open-mouthed before it, quipping to her male companion: “I’m that good!” Ah sex in the città!
She can be excused - al fresco tables under the faux grape vines are romantic, and the handsome, muscular wait staff ooze Italian charm and speak the mother tongue. So do many of the patrons.
Pino’s son Luigi stands out on the floor with five-star experience, coaxing us into a (regular) special of Fettuccini Lobster ($31.90) with a good bisque-like sauce evenly coating every al dente strand. (Think Napoletana with cream, brandy and lobster bisque... simple and lovely!)
The popular Eye Fillet ($31.90) is almost eclipsed by the accompanying pepper sauce, so good it turns all other items on my plate into vehicles for delivering more creamy, peppery goodness!
There’s a lot of time in the detailed explanations on the Italian wine list. We opted for an inexpensive Fazio Montélimo Nero D'Avola Merlot ($26.90) - a fruity, easy companion to our food and the hot night.
I was also sent a plate of meatballs - they're house made, and incredibly tasty, set off by a simple tomato sauce. I eyed off a vegetarian pizza called Funghi Rucola ($17.90) delivered to another table too, almost hidden under a garden of springy leaves.
If you need another reason to do an all-you-can-eat special from Sunday to Thursday on pasta and pizza called Pizza & Pasta Birra for $22.90 per head, it even includes a glass or wine or a beer.
60 Riley Street, Darlinghurst
Ph: (02) 9356 3288