Ajò, at The Welcome Hotel is an outlet for head chef Daniel Mulligan’s passion for Sardinian food. Mulligan’s love of cucina Italiana was nurtured during his travels in regional Italy and under the tutelage of Giovanni Pilu during his eight-years as head chef at Pilu at Freshwater. But for Mulligan, inspiration comes from everywhere and anywhere, so the menu brings together the best of regional Italian fare and Australian produce.
This results in not your ordinary pub grub. On the primi menu traditional offerings of antipasti are served alongside Sydney Rock oysters, bottarga-crusted swordfish belly and zucchini flowers cooked in fennel seed. The secondi menu steps things up with dishes such as smoked spatchcock and the chef-favourite: seared mutton backstrap served with broad bean, baby artichokes and olive caramel. The menu is complemented by local and Italian wines and the hotel’s specialty range of craft brews – there are 14 beers on tap and more than 50 bottled varieties.
With its sophisticated bistro feel, dark leather banquette and rustic tableware, the dining space complements the food well.