Dee Why is a cracking beachside locale. Easily reached via public transport, there are stunning coastal tracks – taking you north to Long Reef and Collaroy, or south to Freshy and the lively hub of Manly – and a collection of waterside eateries primed for sunshine-hours enjoyment. But as the evening wears on, the pickings get slim and it quietens down quickly. The Northern Beaches’ Oi Hospitality Group (Banco, Corretto) wants to change that with Ullo.
“We want to bring a bit more late-night life to that Dee Why strip, which it’s really lacking at the moment,” Kurtis Bosley, Oi Hospitality Group founder, tells Broadsheet. “We’re open seven days a week, serving pizzas right through till 9.30pm, and on weekends we have DJs playing till late.”
Climbing the stairs to Ullo – just across the street from the sand – guests enter a moody (and comfy) haven. Red neon heralds your arrival to the dining room, where rich-red painted beams stripe overhead and warm lights polka-dot around the space. Neat timber tables-for-two join bench seating and a bar, while rows of wine bottles circle the space. There’s a breezy balcony too, with views of the ocean. The classic Italian trattoria is party-ready – namely via the DJ booth in one corner.
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But before it gets late, Ullo is what you make of it. “What we’re trying to create is a casual space,” says Bosley. “You can come up, have a wine at the bar, have a slice of pizza if you like, and sit down and read a book. It’s fun and lighthearted.”
Josefa Rakuro (ex-Rockpool) is heading up the kitchen, where pizza and pasta star – but it’s more “Italian-leaning” than strictly Italian. A 48-hour fermented pizza dough is the base of Neapolitan-style pizzas, which are cooked at a “slightly lower temperature, so it has a lot more crunch”. Toppings and sauces have Italian origins, but feature Australian ingredients – like the sausage pizza that’s layered with LP’s pig’s head meat and provolone cheese, then sweetened with honey and zested with lemon basil.
It finds its ideal pairing in Unico Zelo’s spicy, smoky drop Truffle Hound, a barbera nebbiolo. Another killer drop on the Italian and Australian wine list, which is big on boutique producers, is an earthy, mineral-driven chardonnay made by Patrick Sullivan on his farm in Gippsland, Victoria. (It’s the glass for you if the blue swimmer crab tagliatelle makes it to your table, a dish where kombu buerre blanc sauce joins confit tomato, chives and chilli.)
Swinging by just for a snack? A bite-sized menu sees wood-charred brioche topped with anchovies and stracciatella join beef cheek arancini and a kingfish carpaccio layered with creamy mascarpone. All pair nicely with the Australian-native-spiked cocktail list. The Limon-Myrtle Spritz brings lemon myrtle limoncello and finger lime caviar, and the Eucalyptus Popsicle sees gin and Aperol combine with a summery trio of strawberry eucalyptus, passionfruit and citrus.
For anyone not quite ready to quit the daylight, takeaway pizzas and Bosley’s own Bottled by Bloc cocktails are available. “You can go across the road, to the huge grassy area by the beach, and watch the sun set over the ocean. It’s such a lovely experience. Obviously, come back for drinks at the bar afterwards.”