The Sawmill is on the site of an old timber mill, and the space honours the heritage of its Italian owners, Domenico and Susan Murdocca and head chef Ruben Castellaz, and Pymble’s history as a timber-producing area in the 1800s.
The dining room has recycled-wood features and exposed brick. The warm space is also a stage for pastry chef Rocco Speranza’s impromptu opera performances.
When the mood strikes Speranza emerges from the kitchen and belts out a favourite aria from Verdi’s Rigoletto in his impressive tenor. It’s an experience that transports guests to the Bay of Napoli, where Speranza grew up and studied opera.
At lunch pastas sit alongside the Sawmill Burger and the pulled-pork sandwich, both served with truffle and chive chips. At night there are antipasto dishes and updated regional Italian fare. Pizzas are wood fired; gnocchi is handmade, served with scarmoza cheese and hazelnuts; and lamb shank is slow-cooked and served with polenta and porcini mushrooms.
Coffee is roasted in house, and the selection of wine and cocktails is chosen to cut through the hearty menu. Speranza’s specialty dessert is the rum baba, a rum-syrup-soaked sponge cake, which he recommends eating with a sweet passito wine. And a song.