Cavallino is the 180-seater creation of Giovanni Pilu, of hatted Freshwater restaurant Pilu, and Lido Russo, owner of Walsh Bay's Ventuno Pizzeria and Bacino expresso bars. Situated on the former site of Il Piemonte, Pilu and Russo wanted to create a rustic Italian pizzeria and ristorante. The Terrey Hills location works perfectly when imagining you are somewhere in the Italian countryside.
Cavallino, meaning little horse, features decorations referencing its namesake scattered throughout. It’s an enormous, almost warehouse-like stone building with huge windows and a low dramatic ceiling. It’s somewhere between a classy hunting lodge – with its heavy timber beams, sandstone walls and deer-antler chandeliers – and an exclusive Italian golf club. There are nice touches like hanging smallgoods, a cheese room, open fireplace and the horseshoe-shaped bar that runs around the pizza oven. This gives a great view the pizza chefs in action, which seems to mesmerise small children.
With Pilu as the executive chef, there’s antipasti, pizza and pasta (made fresh daily). Try the Ghiotta pizza (tomato, mozarella, ham, mixed mushrooms, porcini, black truffle paste and reggiano) or Gnocchi di patate con ragu di scorfano (potato gnocchi with rock cod and tomato ragu). For drinks, there’s aperetivi, cocktails, beers, house spirits and a selection of mineral waters. And on Thursday nights, Pilu cooks a $45 three-course set menu with wine.