Of the three Wollongong restaurants to be awarded a chef's "hat" award by the Good Food Guide, only two have hung on to their decoration in the guide's latest publication.
But the one to dip its lid was just named a top-five pizza place in NSW by a rival magazine, and the owner is taking developments in his stride.
The 2024 Good Food Guide was released at an awards night-style do at the Art Gallery of NSW on Monday night, with many in the hospitality waiting with bated breath to see where the gongs would go.
The Guide, which is produced by Nine Entertainment's Sydney Morning Herald, gives out one, two or three hats as ratings for the very best restaurants.
Thirroul pizza bar Franco, which a year ago was rewarded with a chef's hat after its stellar first year of operation, didn't make the cut this time.
This left Keira St eatery Babyface Kitchen and Globe Lane's Restaurant Santino as the only two Wollongong diners to be "hatted" in the 2024 edition.
But taste is clearly a subjective thing.
Franco had recently been named one of the five best pizza spots in NSW by News Corp-owned Delicious magazine, the pizza bar's Facebook page announced yesterday.
Franco owner Sam Jones did not appear too concerned about the hat.
"Earning a hat never defined us although we did appreciate the recognition and feel the support last year," he told the Mercury on Tuesday night.
"Our priority has always been to give our customers the best experience and they're happy so we are happy.
"We were stoked to see two incredible venues from our neighbouring suburb recognised this year. Santino and Babyface in Wollongong are doing amazing things to bring Illawarra the credibility it deserves."
Only three restaurants statewide scored the top prize of three; all are in Sydney. Only five restaurants outside Sydney received the next best rating of two hats.
Wollongong's duo were among the regional 33 restaurants awarded one hat - which meant it earned a rating of 15 to 15.5 out of 20.
Heading a little south, Bangalay Dining at Shoalhaven Heads retained its hat, but from there it's a fair hike to the next single hatters in the Milton Hotel, and Queen Chow, Justin Hemmes' latest conquest in his bid to transform the Narooma culinary scene.
Perhaps the story of the year was the success of Canberra as a fine food destination, with the bush capital's CBD diner Such and Such reviewed as one of the most exciting places to eat in Australia". and scoring one hat.
Change is afoot a few doors down from Franco at Thirroul, where cafe and "feel good store" Noel and Gladys has closed down.
Next door, the popular Papi's "dive bar" and burger joint was closed by its owners in July with much fanfare - only for the same team to perform a quick renovation an reopen as "Busters Tavern" within days.
The attempt at a slicker venue failed to find a crowd in Thirroul over two months. It closed for good two weeks ago after what the owners said was the end of the lease.
The site now awaits its next incarnation on the busy main street of the northern beach town.
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