A’Mare is impressive. Set at the base of Crown Sydney (an extraordinary structure that looks like an elongated Fabergé egg), the 200-seat dining room and terrace looks out over water so pretty that, if you squint, you might be fooled into thinking you’re in Italy.
But more striking than the view is the scent of fresh basil as you enter the dining room. The trofie al pesto (pesto pasta) is made from beginning to end, tableside. With a 30-kilogram mortar made from Carrara marble (the same marble Michelangelo used to carve David) and a pestle made from the hardy trunk of an olive tree, chef Alessandro Pavoni brings the theatre of the kitchen to the table.
He pounds pine nuts and macadamia to a paste, and adds sweet Genovese basil, sea salt, pecorino ligure and Parmigiano Reggiano. The pesto is finished with extra-virgin olive oil, then tossed with fresh semolina pasta that’s brought from the kitchen at precisely the right moment.
The burrata and green tomato caprese is also prepared tableside, with the server piercing the wobbly orb to spill its cream. Coral trout is filleted at the table, and even gelato is served from a trolley that makes its way around the room. You can select from flavours such as pistachio or bitter cherries with syrup, or you can mix and match with toppings of your choice.
Equal care has gone into the wine list, a 15-page menu with drops that stretch from Australia to Italy, plus spirits and a selection of premium cocktails.
A’Mare emulates the theatre of a Michellin-starred meal, without the European stiffness. Although the controversial Crown building makes for a grand setting, the venue is still a comfortable place to eat homely, fresh Italian fare.