Beach dining has moved on from fish and chips wrapped in greasy paper.
The Northbeach Pavilion, in the reopened Bathers' Pavilion at Wollongong's North Beach, serves modern Italian cuisine that will ease your appetite after a day in the surf.
Chef and co-owner Massimiliano Borsato (the other owners are Lorraine Mercuri and Gabrielle and Mario Fraticelli), originally from Biella in Northern Italy, says after having worked in restaurants such as Pilu at Freshwater and Park Hyatt Canberra, opening his own space is an exciting step.
"I think it is the achievement of any chef who has been working all around - the cherry on top of the cake," he says.
The cafe takes full advantage of the view over the beach: windows line the eastern wall, with high wooden benches underneath so people can enjoy the scenery while they tuck into their meal. The wall-length mirror opposite adds to the open feel.
Breakfasts are simple and light - granola with poached rhubarb and yoghurt, organic eggs with toast or ricotta hotties topped with banana and honeycomb butter - but with a few healthy twists.
The early-morning menu features ingredients such as quinoa and spelt in the breads and frittatas.
For lunch and dinner though, the menu switches to modern Italian meals with a twist. Pastas and pizzas are available in many bistros and clubs, so Borsato decided to put a spin on some traditional dishes, such as the ricottamisu, his variation of the classic tiramisu made with fresh ricotta cheese.
"It's been on the menu of every place and doing modern Italian I want to do a twist on what they expect, using my Italian heritage," Borsato says.
He puts his background to good use with al dente pastas tossed in olive oil and paired with seafood, crisp salads such as the Caprese and slow roasted pork belly and vegies off the grill.
But according to the chef, the signature dish at Northbeach Pavilion is the wood-fired pizza.
He estimates about 90 per cent of the ingredients used in the pizzas are imported from Italy to give them a truly authentic taste.
The cafe, at 5 Cliff Road, North Wollongong, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner from 7am to 10pm Wednesday to Saturday, and from 7am to 5pm on Tuesdays and Sundays. Bookings can be made for groups of six or more.