The newest neighbour on Darlinghurst’s stylish Stanley Street is Aquaviva’s, a restaurant and bar owned and operated by the Fernandes family. Aquaviva is a Portuguese term meaning ‘water for life’ and has been passed through the family for many generations.
Set in a two-storey terrace house, downstairs features a colonial-style bar with polished dark timbers and a shiny gramophone, which leads to an open courtyard filled with greenery and long, communal tables. With an impressive list of cocktails to choose from, namely Turkish apple tea mojito daiquiri, it is difficult to resist the temptation of stopping here after work. Head upstairs to the dining room decorated with vintage floral lounges, oval coffee tables, grand mirrors, red velvet chairs and multicoloured lampshades. A family of musicians, their love is scattered throughout with a series of different sized violins fixed on the wall, an antique pump organ near the balcony’s stain glassed doors and illustrations of instruments with headless characters.
With the menu proposed to change weekly, the cuisine is a blend of modern Australian with a colonial Portuguese influence. Designed for sharing, dishes include vegetarian options such as cubes of baked Goan ricotta with cured fennel and pickled rhubarb, and char-grilled corn with indulgent house-churned garlic and bay butter, chilli and cumin salt. The house-cured bresaola served with watercress and pecorino shavings is difficult to fault, while the reverse Portuguese chicken with a subtle spicy sauce served with a barley and quinoa salad is set to become a house favourite. For dessert, the ‘mixed bag of lollies’ dish is full of surprises including cinnamon marshmallow and grapefruit melting moments, to name a few.