It’s not everyday that you see “Margherita with hot chips” under the pizza section in the menu of an Italian restaurant. However, with Giovanni Pilu as the executive chef here at Cavallino we’re hoping that it can’t go too wrong.
Once we enter the restaurant, we’re greeted by a reception desk which makes it seem like a fancy hotel. The restaurant itself is a spacious stone building with lots of mahogany tones and windows, but luckily we’re seated near an open fireplace which keeps us toasty and warm on this chilly night. We select a few entrees, pizzas and pastas to share, including the hot chips pizza (for research purposes of course!)
We see a standard margherita pizza sitting in the service area, alongside a bowl of fries. Queen Chu wonders if they are going to dump the fries on top of the pizza, and lo and behold that is exactly what they do! We’re a bit alarmed but we dig in anyway. Most of us pick off the chips from the top of the pizza and eat them separately from the pizza itself, but Sir D notes that the salt from the chips ruins what might have been a nice margherita pizza. There isn’t much tomato sauce on the pizza to balance out the saltiness from the chips and the cheese, and we all agree that we probably wouldn’t order this again.
The burrata is a bit small, but delicious nonetheless. When we break it open, the cream oozes out and the waitress suggests that we top the cheese with the crispy pancetta. So we do, and it is absolute heaven, with the creamy, stretchy mozzarella with the salty, crunchy pancetta. If only there was more on the plate!
We go for something a little bit more mainstream for our other pizza and choose the Ghiotta, which has ham, mushrooms, black truffle paste and Parmagiano Reggiano. This one is also quite salty, and although the toppings are quite nice it still needs a bit of sweetness and acidity from the tomato base. JC finds the bases of both pizzas to be too soggy, and while they’re not falling-apart-soggy they’re not crispy at all except for the crust.
The pastas on the other hand are much more well received by our group, with myself and Sir D particularly liking the gnocchi. The soft pillows of potato are coated in the slightly sweet tomato sauce and there are nice chunks of rock cod and bursts of cherry tomatoes throughout the pasta.
The pappardelle is delicious and the rabbit ragu is also lovely and rich without any gamey taste. All the pastas are made fresh every day and they’re cooked perfectly with a nice bite to the pappardelle.
Our final dish is the calamari which is coated in a very light batter and is super tender. These are so addictive and the salty, slightly spicy batter is the perfect complement with the creamy mayonnaise and a squirt of lemon. I probably ate more than my share of these but they were so good I just couldn’t stop! We were sad pandas when the waitress took away the dish and there was still one piece of calamari left.
The entrees and pastas were excellent and enjoyed by everyone but unfortunately the pizzas weren’t as good as we’d hoped. We found them a bit too salty and I think most of us would have enjoyed a crispy crust a bit more but the pizza toppings were quite tasty. It’s a beautiful restaurant though and it won’t burn a hole in your wallet either, so I would definitely come back to try more of their pastas and mains, and more burrata and calamari as well!
Cavallino Ristorante Pizzeria
Corner McCarrs Creek Road and Yulong Avenue
Terrey Hills NSW 2084
Ph: +61 2 9450 1777
Lunch: Wednesday to Sunday (except Saturday), 12pm-3pm
Dinner: Tuesday to Friday, 6pm – 10pm, Saturday, 5.30pm – 10pm, Sunday, 6pm – 10pm