Heading north on the Pacific Hwy it’s worth taking a small detour to Ulmarra (population 1586), a heritage-listed town with a river port. There’s a quaint old corner pub with a wrought-iron verandah, pub rooms (singles/doubles $35/60) and a greener-than-green beer garden that stretches down to the Clarence River. The river can be crossed by car ferry 1km north of town.
A piadina is a filled flat bread common in northern Italy, and the Zizioli brothers are the only ones serving them in Sydney. Fillings include prosciutto, rocket, mozzarella and ndjua, a kind of spicy sausage. Have them for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but whatever you do have them – they’re delicious!
This good-looking bistro prides itself on simple honest food using great produce. The modern European menu is not extensive (there are just four entrées and mains), but it changes regularly. Check out the cool artwork by the likes of Ben Quilty and Bill Henson while waiting for your order.
The verandah view across Town Green to the water provides the perfect setting for a treat-yourself dinner. Seafood is the chef’s special talent, from the simple (grilled dory and chips) to the exceptional (king prawns and goats-cheese gnocchi). Lunch set menus ($20) are a cheaper option.
Good luck getting a seat at this hugely popular steak-house that specialises in juicy Australian beef steaks and racks of ribs marinated and grilled in a secret basting sauce. If you can’t stand the queue, there’s a takeaway window (Hurricanes Express) next door with a pared-down menu.
Near Brooklyn is the brilliant Peats Bite . This restaurant has been operated by the same family since 1981. Guests are encouraged to linger over a long lunch, take a dip in the pool between courses and shimmy on the dance floor when Tammy gets up to sing. Access is by boat only.
This is the only pizzeria in Sydney to be given the seal of approval from the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana – the governing Naples body established to ensure pizzaioli (pizza makers) aren’t corrupting the trade. Not surprisingly, the pizzas are kickin’ (as is the tiramisu).
If you ever wondered what the Australian coat of arms tastes like, Ironbark’s kangaroo fillet wrapped in emu prosciutto should satisfy your curiosity. This place takes its bush food seriously, with native Australian ingredients featuring in every dish – even the wattle-seed ice cream.
The restaurant’s not pretty, but you’re not here for the decor: you’re here for the cheap and very cheerful (halal) Pakistani/Indian food. Squeeze in next to the cabbies (it’s a taxi driver fave) and order a beef vindaloo or butter chicken accompanied by freshly made naan bread.
Armidale’s telltale blue-grey bricks are still in place but the White Bull hasn’t been shy giving the interior a makeover. This is a pub worthy of a bit of lippy, with couches for chilling, a bar with boutique beers and a bistro menu that rises above the usual pub grub.
This sunny waterfront restaurant, where boating types gravitate at the end of the day, has a short and sweet menu with seafood favourites including garlic prawns ($18), seafood platters ($30) and fish and chips ($15). The salty breeze goes nicely with a crisp Chardonnay.