Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta

Terry Durack
Sweetness and light: Inside Da Orazio Pizza and Porchetta.
Sweetness and light: Inside Da Orazio Pizza and Porchetta. Photo: Fiona Morris

3/75-79 Hall Street Bondi Beach, NSW 2026

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Opening hours Lunch Sat & Sun from noon; Dinner daily 5-10pm
Features Accepts bookings, Bar, Family friendly, Licensed, Long lunch, Outdoor seating, Wheelchair access
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Chef Orazio D'Elia
Payments eftpos, AMEX, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 02 8090 6969

Maurice Tenrzi has always been a master of darkness, a creator of cool, an administrator of mood. A mysterious figure loosely swathed in black, he first brought his shadowy vibe from Melbourne in 2000, importing a dark romance to sunny Sydney's dining scene; first at Otto in Woolloomooloo, then at Icebergs and North Bondi Italian with former partner Robert Marchetti.

But Terzini is also a contrary character, so now that everybody is doing dark and moody, his new Da Orazio Pizza + Porchetta, in Bondi's swish Boheme development is all sweetness and light.

The big, solid slab tables are white; the chairs are white; the nautical blinds that rise up over the louvred windows like sails are white. Ditto the designer deckhand waiters' outfits; the marble counters and bars; and the domed pizza oven from Naples. Even Terzini himself is in wrap-around, deconstructed, drop-crotch white. It's pure Bondi, with no shadows or introspective corners, a beach resort pizzeria from the Adriatic coast washed up in Bondi.

Go-to dish: Pizza marinara.
Go-to dish: Pizza marinara. Photo: Fiona Morris

Chef and partner Orazio D'Elia, formerly of Popolo and Icebergs, puts a serious focus on Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizza and Roman-style porchetta - rolled-and-roasted pork. As well, Naples-born fourth-generation pizzaiolo Luca Di Napoli (yes, really) stands guard by the pizza oven, paddle in hand.

The big order is for pizza diavoletto, a crowd-pleaser of fior di latte cheese, tomato and spicy salami, but it's the marinara ($20) for me, the traditional tomato, garlic and oregano topping seasoned with capers, Sicilian anchovies and black olives. It's a beautiful balance of acidity and sweetness from the San Marzano tomato, smoke and yeastiness from the puffy charred crust, and salt, salt, salt from the extras, all working together like family.

There's a short list of antipasti running from tender grilled octopus ($17) to arrosticini, those lovely, fatty, salty skewers of grilled lamb neck straight off the streets of Pescara in Abruzzo (five for $15). Three house-made pasta dishes include a coil of squid-ink black spaghetti alla chitarra dressed with sweet, lightly cooked prawns and zucchini flowers ($26); ideal summer eating.

Focaccia con porchetta.
Focaccia con porchetta. Photo: Fiona Morris

Families come early, their bambini soon happily smeared pomodoro-red from their penne, cared for by the almost all-Italian service under partner Rachel Duffy. Next come the Golden People, those tall, skinny, cashed-up, tousle-haired beachside locals in coded sneakers and Ksubi knits that you just want to smack because they make it all look so easy.

But we're forgetting about the porchetta, pride of the kitchen, enthroned on its own carving board. It loses its grandeur somewhat at the table, the meat sliced and served in a small terracotta bowl ($24 for two) with a little jug of its own juices. I like it but don't love it; something to do with the uniformity of the chew, the rubbery skin. Stuff that same porchetta between two slices of warm pizza bread with some eggplant and call it focaccia con porchetta ($26), however, and you have a pretty awesome weekend lunch. The juices you could live on.

The all-Italian wine list is brief and democratic, moving from a gutsy house red, white and rosato made by Terzini's third cousins Domenico and Roberto Terzini in Abruzzo at $7 a glass and $34 a bottle, to an intense 2012 Salcheto Obvius Sangiovese from Montepulciano in Tuscany for $64.

After a meal of pizza, pork, pasta and focaccia, a scoop of fresh creamy ricotta hit with sweet pear and pistachios ($11) ends on a suitable note of sweetness and light. Needless to say the place is hot. You could even say white-hot.

THE LOWDOWN
Best bit:
The Italian hustle and bustle
Worst bit:
Way too many beautiful people
Go-to dish:
Pizza marinara $20

Terry Durack is chief restaurant critic forĀ The Sydney Morning HeraldĀ and senior reviewer for the Good Food Guide. This rating is based on the Good Food Guide scoring system.

www.daorazio.com