Brother Albert

Brother Albert.
Brother Albert.  Photo: Tamara Dean

Shop 7, Newport Village, 331/335 Barrenjoey Rd Newport, Northern Beaches, NSW 2106

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02 8411 1731
Opening hours Mon-Fri, 6.30am-3pm (kitchen closes), coffees till 4pm; Sat-Sun, 7.30am-3pm (kitchen closes), coffees till 4pm

Situated rather ingloriously in a shopping arcade, across from a medical centre, a dentist and a German bakery, Brother Albert is a very appealing sliver of Italy.

A clutch of tables and chairs are scattered outside the quite small espresso bar and the couple of robust-looking palm trees are a good reminder you are close to sand and surf. The blankets on the chairs outside are a cute touch.

Inside, there's a faint and entirely pleasant whiff of chaos to the sleek aesthetic - there are hessian sacks of something stacked against the wall, precarious piles of coffee bags, a giant tin of tomatoes on the floor and the first $50 note taken across the till is sticky-taped to the blackboard by the cafe owners.

The coffee machines, gleaming, silver and looking like something from the future, are getting a thorough workout by a barista who seems very committed to his craft. Luckily for him, and us, the coffee ($3.20-$4.20) is excellent - well rounded, strong and smooth. That particular week the blend was a Merthi Mountain India single origin blend. There are also some serious-sounding smoothies, Phoenix juices and an affogato that's awfully tempting.

The staff, some wearing thongs despite it being the depths of winter, are blessed with an aura of relaxation and peachy beachy. It's counter service but the genial bloke behind the counter comes to the table and takes our orders anyway.

The breakfast menu has such delights as corned beef hash, baked eggs with chorizo and sweet treats from the blackboard including ricotta cakes with poached pears.

We opt for fresh and simple, a good idea it seems, as my dining partner closes his eyes happily while eating the first bite of his creamy scrambled eggs with fresh basil ($7.50) on properly chewy sourdough bread - always vaguely embarrassing to witness. He then declares, in the manner of a MasterChef judge, they are the best scrambled eggs he has eaten.

Meanwhile, like reading Shane Warne's flirty tweets with Liz Hurley, the freshly made Italian ricotta doughnuts on the specials board prove impossible to resist. There are three in a serve and their hot, crisp exterior melts into delicate orange-infused lightness. Delicious.

Brother Albert

Address Shop 7, Newport Village Arcade, 331-335 Barrenjoey Road, Newport

Open Mon-Sat, 6.30am-3pm (kitchen closes) ; coffees until 4pm. Sun, 7.30am-3pm (kitchen closes); coffees until 4pm