It’s a steamy summer’s night in Sydney and four friends converge at Cellini’s Ristorante and Pizzeria in Randwick. Two couples, two bottles of vino, an evening that easily translate to countless conversations on what has become a habitual pizza on a Friday night.
Cellini’s is one of those places that grabs your attention when walking or diving past. With large glass frontage and a selection of shiny motor bikes on display inside and outside the restaurant, one can’t help but look in its direction. Established for a little over 18 years, the restaurant is often full and reservations are recommended. We have a 9 pm booking and we are greeted at the door with a warm Italian welcome. We pass the gelato bar with an assortment of colours and flavours and we’re shown to a table by the large floor to ceiling windows.
Surprisingly on this humid night, not many patrons are dining inside yet the outdoor seating area spilling onto the footpath is almost full. We settle with our menus in the air-conditioned comfort, reminiscing at the travel footage of various Italian cities from the wall-hung televisions screens.
It is our first time at Cellini’s yet the four of us regularly get together on Friday nights for pizza. We are on a mission to find a new pizzeria we enjoy to replace our old-time favourite. Part of the ritual now involves one of us who often decides to be different, taking an inordinate amount of time to choose from the menu. She finally orders Crêpes Pescatore, described as home made egg & flour crepes with a filling of fresh mixed seafood, garlic, chilli cream and wine. The dish looks appetising with the prawns and the squid pieces though I am expecting to see a traditional crêpe somewhere on the plate.
The men’s favourite is a hot pepperoni pizza so they choose a large Lucifer pizza each, with hot salame, Tabasco, hot peppers, onion and capsicum. It arrives on individual plates and judging by the speed with which it is consumed, it has the right amount of heat, chilli and flavour for their taste.
I opt for a small pizza from the gourmet selection. Provinciale comes with artichokes, marinated eggplant, zucchinis, sun-dried
tomatoes, basil, goats cheese and wild mushrooms; a light summery choice that is also filling. The pizza dough is well cooked, not too chewy or crunchy and goes down well with the first bottle of vino.
The service at Cellini’s is as warm as the welcome we received at the door. Our Italian waiter is ensuring all our needs are met as if we were dining in someone’s home. Our wine glasses were swiftly replaced when he sees we are about to change from white to red.
The choice of dessert was an easy one. Each one of us opted for something different and tucked into it right away before giving me a chance to photograph their choice.
The Panna Cotta below had a mouthful taken as testament to its taste. The dessert is described as a home made Panna Cotta topped with a crushed walnut and nocello liqueur.
The Profiteroles al Cioccolato, with their home-made custard-filled choux pastry topped with dark Belgian chocolate came with more than the one profiterole shown in the photograph below. Our taster is a profiteroles connoisseur and she gave the dish her stamp of approval.
The third dessert ordered was Gelato Misto, three scoops of different flavours from the extensive gelateria selection. The lack of photograph can only mean that it was inhaled the moment it was served.
Unlike the previous desserts, my Tiramisu was happy to pose for photographs before the first bite was taken. Described as ‘the original’, with Savoiardi biscuits soaked in coffee liqueur with Mascarpone cheese and dusted with chocolate, it satisfied my sweet craving and came in a generous sized portion with a serving of whipped cream on the side.
We had come to Cellini’s to try their pizzas and they did not disappoint. The ambience was a little difficult to judge on a quieter night but we agreed to return to sample more of their extensive menu. With a large choice of Italian fare to cater to various tastes and attentive service, one can see why the restaurant often packs a crowd.
Cellini’s Ristorante Pizzeria
62 Frenchmans Rd
Randwick, NSW 2031
Edit October 2010: Cellini’s has now closed.
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