Northbeach Pavilion -North Wollongong NSW

Northbeach Pavilion on Urbanspoon
A parade of bruschettas.

Casual, outdoor embracing, serving great pizzas and family friendly.  The ability to convert part of the beach pavilion at North Wollongong is a stroke of genius - one can swim, surf and have quality food as well. The concept of having cuisine available right on the door step of fine beach sands and views seems to be done well in the Illawarra area - I can readily think of Flanagan's Dining Room, Diggies near the Novotel North Gong and the Austi across the road from the wholesome beach at Austinmer.
The location of such restaurants can determine the kind of clientele and the sort of offerings they come back for - and in the case of the Northbeach Pavilion, it is the pizzas, made lovingly inside a blue tiled purpose built oven near its entrance.  The entrance can be a but tricky to find, as there is no access from the beach walkway - one goes into an apparent shower room passage and looks for the access.  The pavilion building itself is iconic of the surfing and beach lifestyle, an institution of North Gong.  Once inside the restaurant, we are taken to another world, reminding me of lazy summer holidays, bright painted stripes to suggest of ice cream and burgers and two-tiered flooring, all mostly surrounded by Tasman Sea vistas.

There is an Italian and Mediterranean influence on the menu - for example for breakky, there are a variety of Italian inspired pastries and for lunch, there is a shared platter option of proscuitto di Parma, Pane Carasau, pickled veg and Pecorino cheese slices.  On the other hand, you can also choose the potato and spinach roast with poached egg graced with hollandaise (Holl' & Daze Roast) or a big breakfast equivalent called the North Pav Big Boy, having Aussie familiar components of toasted sourdough, mushrooms, pork sausages and bacon.  My fav brunch item is cleverly called thee Ovo-Lacto-Vego!  Calamari is deep fried with semolina flour, you can have pappardelle pasta with black truffle and mascarpone cheese and the pork belly is twice cooked and served with green beans (the Pancia di Maiale).

Early evening before 6pm.

The pasta carbonara here has a different texture and feel, much drier, more eggy and as what the host told us, with "none of the New York creaminess".  I can recall only one other place in the Illawarra serving this version.

The jewels in the crown of the Northbeach Pavilion offerings are the red sauce based and white based pizzas.  Of the latter, what stands out for me in this pizza range are the Pizza Pavilion ( with butternut pumpkin, mozzarella, ricotta, pine nuts, spinach and rocket) and the pizza version of the Pancia di Maiale (aka pork belly). I find the red based pizzas are better eaten with seafood like baby octopus, and prawns.   There is an extensive use of the fior di latte, a mozzarella that is made from pasteurised or non pasteurised cow's milk and not the water buffalo.  Mozzarella is a fresh cheese originally from southern Italy, where many of the Australians of Italian background hail from.

The view from your table at the Northbeach Pavilion.

I enjoyed the evening catch up with Dimitti, Amie and Michael. There was sufficient room for Amie to
explore and she seemed happy with her bambini package of a tomato-flavoured spaghetti and vanilla ice cream.  I am glad to have taken up Michael's recommendations of the pizzas.  When the beach is not overly windy, when you have good company and when you just want to unwind, this is a suitable place to congregate to.   There are Italian beers, a choice of wines and also good coffee. This is both Italy and Australia by the beach.  The Italian side wants you to dress up for the occasion but the Aussie side wants as well to make you chill out and be more casual.  So you achieve a certain harmony of vibe, wardrobe and buzz, sitting at this place, especially reminding you of where all this seafood comes from and what a coddled space you can be in.

Affogato, with strong espresso coffee an  a creamy and comforting cold delight!

The dolci menu is highlighted by a cleverly named Ugly Duckling Italian doughnut, with cinnamon sugar, ricotta and a Nutella dip.  When I see a Nutella presence in a restaurant in Australia or New Zealand, that is a signal for some thing Italian. This was magnified in the shared dessert we had for the Calzoncino.  A true chocolate filled sock, it had Christmassy vibes and we felt like eating out of a gratifying food stocking.  We hit the beach after all this, taking in the fresh but salty breezes massaging our cheeks , whilst Amie delightfully explored the powdery sand.  It had a been perfect evening, the ocean was calm and we and chatted on more than just food.  A new year beckons, with all its possibilities, determination and reward.

A delight that stole my heart - the grilled eggplants, served with the ever popular rocket.


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