"Oh yes, there are so many diners now." It seems the evening had built to a crescendo of aromas, flavours and guests. The level of chatter was hitting the ceiling.
Outside, on a narrow paved foot path, there was a long table laid out, with white and red check cloth, as if this was in the middle of an olive grove. Okay, I begun to finally get it - this was a family gathering, a community hub and a place to relax with many people. No standing around like cocktail hour in Aussie joints, with customers holding their precious half empty glass, I noticed - the Italian tradition is to be seated, and I mean seated close to each other. The conversation is important, the listening look is critical and the wine is important. The Giulani family photos are lovingly still on the wall.
The servings are wholesome, cooked well and welcome. Wine is BYO but there is a good in-house selection of craft beer, Peroni on tap and imported beer as well as Aussie stubbies of VB, James Boags and Tooheys. Il Nido for many years is well known for its liquors, port, Bourbons, rum and digestives and the tradition is still continued after being embedded by Adriano's parents.
There are three important menus - seasonal, black board and takeaway. Oh yes, it is still best to phone in for your take away orders and then come at your leisure.
On our most recent visit, there was a unnerving concentration of people walking in and huddling around the inside of the front entrance - were they waiting for their take aways, or hoping for an unbooked table, or just undecided what to do next? I recognised a person from the past but this chap turned his face away once he recognised me, even under the dim reddish light - how sad, it is his baggage.
The gradually darkening outside soon became solid night fall. The headlights of turning and parking cars could be seen through the windows. The chatter continued. Breads alternated with wines, pizzas, beers, cured meats and mains. Village life still flourishes.
Risotto, Ragu, cheeses and antipasto are staples, as from the old country, but now served in an upbeat contemporary style.
I recognise Adriano, busy inside the open but long deep kitchen as usual - and also one of his long time staff, a young man with spectacles and serious about his work. They are both easy to talk to. My pork belly should be shared by three but I have it all by myself, a tad rich. A mate has the veal, which was not top notch this evening due to supply variations, but we thought it is good for the staff to know. The bespectacled young man takes this in his stride and I am impressed.
Il Nido Tratorria Pizzeria is located at Shop 1 of 154 Balgownie Road in Balgownie Village NSW, up the slope from the Balgownie Collegians and adjacent to the Bally Pub across the roadway.
Opening hours are from 530pm till late every evening except Mondays and Tuesdays.
Contact +61 2 4284 8664