Driftwood on the Bay

1599 Anzac Parade, La Perouse, NSW

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Driftwood on the Bay, La Perouse, Sydney
Driftwood on the Bay, La Perouse, Sydney. Photo: Fiona Morris

Jacqui Taffel

There's a new kid on the block at La Perouse. It's the block that overlooks the bay next to Bare Island and across to the looming cranes of Port Botany, a striking, windswept spot that attracts hordes at weekends. Most seem to stop and eat at one of the many restaurants that have been here forever - stalwarts such as Danny's Seafood or the Boatshed Cafe.

The new kid, which opened in January, doesn't look so special at first sight. It would be easy to walk past Driftwood on the Bay, but I've done some online sleuthing. Judging by the restaurant's Facebook photos of fresh ingredients and hearty dishes, the people who run it love their food.

Owner Gianpiero Schiattarella, known as JP, grew up around here. After running cafes for years, most recently in Darlinghurst, he decided it was time for a sea change without moving out of Sydney.

Burger and Chips from Driftwood on the Bay
Burger and Chips from Driftwood on the Bay. Photo: Fiona Morris

We arrive for a family lunch, with three generations. Parking ourselves on a colourful bench seat decked with cushions, there's a good view of the blackboard menu that takes up an entire wall. We've just missed breakfast but lots of brunch options are still on offer, such as the eggs with Mexican salsa that my husband chooses.

I go for grilled calamari with chips and salad. What arrives is so much better than the simple description suggests. Rings of tender, perfectly grilled calamari sit on top of lentils, beans, barley, roast pumpkin and bits of greenery. The good crispy chips are devoured by my son, who ignores the wedges we've ordered for him - so we devour the wedges. He's missing out: they're crunchy, spicy and indulgent, with the classic dipping combo of sour cream and sweet chilli sauce.

Mum is fussy about her eggs, but hers are beautifully poached, with a mound of excellent smoked salmon. Sadly, this means she eats the lot and doesn't have room to try any of the cakes or freshly baked muffins on display at the counter.

The counter itself is a minor work of art, plywood seared with a dot pattern, the creation of JP and a mate one night after a few drinks.

Flashes of culinary flair make our meal memorable. The calamari comes with a dollop of smoky baba ganoush, an unusual pairing that works a treat. Dad is surprised to find ginger-flavoured mayo on his burger, which also comes with tomato relish, onion jam and beetroot. He loves it. My husband's hot chocolate is the best he's ever had, and the chocolate milkshake in a retro metal beaker gets mum's vote for using quality ice-cream.

With concrete floors, mismatched chairs, minimal decor and order-at-the-counter service, the tone is casual but amicable and very child-friendly. Our son receives his own plate when he starts eating my chips, and there's even a change table in the spacious restroom. Dad, always up for a chat, gets an impromptu wine tasting from JP. The music is well chosen and pitched - it's amazing how many places get it wrong.

We emerge into the sunshine, ready for a stroll to the island, feeling pleased we got it right and determined to return for a tilt at the cake counter. According to the Facebook comments, the tiramisu is incredible.


Modern Italian.

Recommended dishes

Calamari and chips, burger, eggs with Mexican salsa.

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1599 Anzac Parade, La Perouse, NSW

  • 0497 077 936
  • Cuisine - Italian
  • Prices - Mains $8.50-$25, desserts $4-$7.50.
  • Features - BYO, Licensed
  • Owners - Gianpiero Schiattarella
  • Opening Hours - Tue-Sun, 7.30am-9.30pm
  • Author - Jacqui Taffel
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4 comments so far

  • Been there a few times since it opened earlier this year. So impressed with the food and the service on every occasion. The owner JP is a great host. Most recently had the lamb shanks (to die for!) but also loved the hand-made pasta with the ragu. You can't go past jp's mums homemade tiramisu for dessert; it's gotta be the best there is.
    Do yourself a favour and try it.

    Date and time
    June 29, 2013, 3:46PM
  • great to see some yum local food.

    Date and time
    June 30, 2013, 8:44AM
  • Lamb too hard chewy old, lacked the taste,salad not fresh, fries very oily and rough

    Date and time
    June 30, 2013, 11:37PM
  • Proof there are way too many food writers out there who don't know what they're doing.

    Surely a review of a modern Italian (checking out the menu, I see Driftwood is VERY Italian) joint should actually involve the reviewer eating - and call me crazy for saying this - cuisine from The Boot... The closest this writer seems to get is reading a comment about tiramisu on Facebook.

    I don't want to read a string of ill-fitting adjectives about banal dishes. When were "good" and "crispy" removed from the list of proscribed restaurant-reviewing terms? Please. Crisp; and there's ALWAYS a better word than good.

    Since when are potato wedges anything that can be described as indulgent? Gold leaf on a slice of chocolate cake is indulgent. A smear of foie gras on a burger is indulgent. A potato wedge is a potato wedge. I might order some if they were made in-house and not the generic frozen variety, but I'm left no wiser as to which it is. Sour cream and sweet chilli? Whoop-di-do.

    "The music is well-chosen and pitched..."

    Yeah? How so? What are the choices? Who's it pitched to? What's the style? How's the volume?

    Why was Dad surprised by his burger? Was the ginger mayo not mentioned on the menu?

    It seems we're at the point where anyone who enjoys eating thinks they know how to write about it.

    Seriously. There's something amiss when a review of an Italian restaurant can be summarised as "I took the family for burgers and chips and eggs on Botany Bay and it wasn't bad".

    Date and time
    July 01, 2013, 10:45AM

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