A pizza joint opened by a crew of ex-Rockpool staff scored the gong for best new restaurant at the 2014 Good Food Under $30 awards tonight.
An annual celebration of the best of Sydney's cheap eats scene, the awards honoured Cipro Pizza Al Taglio in Alexandria for "its simple, produce driven food, bright interior and casual vibe".
It's the brainchild of Khan Danis, Catherine Adams, Penelope Watson-Green and Angel Fernandez, who bring with them years of experience both in and in front of the kitchen at the likes of Catalina, Flying Fish, Rockpool and Spice Temple.
Other big winners are Greenacre's Al Aseel, recipient of the eftpos best restaurant award, Sun's Burmese Kitchen in Blacktown, awarded best value, and this year's hall of fame inductee Paul's Famous Hamburgers in Sylvania.
Editor of the The Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Under $30 guide Angie Schiavone says Greenacre's Al Aseel is an old favourite "that's found new energy", partly as a result of a renovation in 2013.
"There's something about a Lebanese food feast that's hard to beat - it's such an inclusive, group-and family-friendly cuisine, and Al Aseel does it with flair and at a fair price," she says'.
"So many great new eateries opened in the past year but we just can't get enough of the menu at Cipro. The wood-fire roasted dishes are especially great, but we're keen on the pizza and desserts, too. It's the perfect middle ground between a casual bite and a restaurant meal."
Sydney's cheap eats scene is booming, says Schiavone. This year's guide contains more than 550 reviews from more than 140 suburbs across Sydney. Some 60 cuisines are represented in the book, with ramen noodles and burgers two areas that continue to surge in popularity. For a venue to be included in this guide, the bill for one person must come to $30 or less, excluding drinks, and should cover two courses.
Suburbs where the affordable dining scene is flourishing with new eateries include Cronulla, Fairfield, Bondi and Enmore, says Schiavone.
She also makes special mention of Rosebery.
"I'd wager that quite a few people wouldn't have known where this suburb was a couple of years back, but it's well and truly on the food map now with lots of great new eateries," she says.
Black Star Pastry opened a Rosebery outpost recently in The Cannery complex already home to Kitchen By Mike and Da Mario.
Other venues recognised at the ceremony include Sweetness the Patisserie in Epping for best sweet spot, best bar food was awarded to Mary's in Newtown and the gong for best family friendly went to Umi Sushi & Udon at Darling Harbour.
The SMH Good Food Under $30 guide will be available for $5 with The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday from participating newsagents, while stocks last. It is also available in selected bookshops and online at smhshop.com.au for $9.99.