Avoca, like many towns on NSW’s Central Coast, has an easy air about it. The strip of shops is a street long and sunburnt surfers populate the cafes and pubs. Bombini, an Italian restaurant on a leafy two-acre plot, has that same relaxed pace but a surprisingly elegant menu.
“We wanted an iconic venue; a property with chickens, veggies and fruit trees,” says chef Cameron Cansdell, who also owns the restaurant with his wife, Hayley. Cameron’s desire for a destination venue may be the after-effect of working at Bells at Killcare, a boutique hotel and fine dining restaurant also on the Central Coast. “Bells was the first good food venue. The Central Coast was starving for other food venues when I came up in 2007 but there have been a lot of openings since,” says Cameron.
The restaurant is hugged by plants; ferns peek through window and surround the best seat in the house, a single outdoor table in a hut-like structure among the garden. With white furniture and lemon furnishings it’s a summer-year-round eatery.
The food here is modern but authentic Italian, the kind you’d see at Berta or Fratelli Paradiso. The salt cod, potato and saffron polpettine (little meatballs) are moreish and great with a beer to start. The roast tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella and pesto is somehow more flavourful than a caprese salad; the homegrown tomatoes are incredibly sweet. The meat in the cannelloni with duck, veal, ricotta and rocket falls apart at the touch, a dish that works in summer and colder weather.
When we say save room for dessert; it’s not a throwaway line. Cameron makes gelato with a Carpigiani ice-cream machine, made the 70s in Bellogna. “I was lucky to come across it, there are not a lot around in Australia. It’s like a vintage car, it requires a lot of technique from the person making it,” he says. The banana and choc chip and the plum and vanilla come out soft and cool, but not freezing, and as fresh as it gets. Leave time for a dip in the ocean before the drive home.
366 Avoca Drive, Avoca
(02) 4381 1436
Wed to Fri 5pm–10.30pm