Fifteen years ago Italian chef Alessandro Pavoni turned up at Barrenjoey House in Palm Beach with a glistening CV and little English. "They told me to go away, they couldn't understand me. So I went and worked in Leichhardt. But it was always my dream when I arrived in Australia to have a place on the far northern beaches," he says.
With the opening of Sotto Sopra at Newport on Thursday, he can finally tick that box. It has been a long journey back to the area for Pavoni, who worked in the city before opening celebrated two-hat Ormeggio at The Spit. Sotto Sopra translates as ''upside down''. While that might translate to the food with an unusual twist to a dish, the chef says it also applies to the design.
"We've built the kitchen as a stage, an island with little windows where you can see the plumbing underneath. The ceilings are high, it has an industrial feel with exposed features and toilet doors made of plywood," he says.
The opening menu is classic Pavoni: ''bruschetta'' topped with chicken livers, potato gnocchi served with mussels, an agnolotti dish featuring coffee powder and a pumpkin creation partnered with liquorice and honey. "I love it up here. I want to be king of the northern beaches," the affable chef tells Good Food.
G4/216-324 Barrenjoey Road, Newport, sottosopra.com.au
Open Fri-Sun, 11.30am-late, Mon-Thurs, 5pm-late.