As mentioned previously on this blog, High St Bistro in Willoughby was taken over by Alessandro Pavoni’s team and has recently been re-branded as Via Alta with the menu being largely ‘Italianised’. It seems that the people of the North Shore have been quick to welcome this updated edition, as it is almost impossible to get a booking on a Saturday evening without calling days ahead and when we did eventually manage a late table on a Sunday night, the place was packed. Having checked out the menu prior to turning up, I had already picked out the crostini with lardo and truffle honey to start.
I loved the flavour and texture combinations in this, with the soft, rich curls of cured pork fat merging wonderfully with the sweet, earthy truffle honey and complemented by the crunch of the cracking bread wafers.
The Milanese fried meatballs were also fantastic. I have to admit that I didn’t take a photo of them because really, how good can meatballs be? Well, these ones proved me wrong, with their crispy outer crumb and juicy interior of scotch fillet, mortadella and Italian pork sausage that was perfectly seasoned.
For my main I had the casoncelli filled with duck, burnt butter and sage. This was delicious, with the burnt butter flavour dominating but not overwhelming thanks to the scattered sage leaves. The duck filling was tender and worked well with the classic flavours.
The ‘torta del giorno’ was an apple pie and while it sounded appealing, it did not live up to expectations. The apple filling was mushy and did not have much flavour and the pastry was oily and not particularly crisp.
On the other hand, the silky smooth vanilla pannacotta was excellent and melted in your mouth. The tart raspberry jelly layer on top and fresh raspberries on the side really lifted the dish and were enhanced by the shards of golden honeycomb sprinkled over the dessert.
- A welcome enhancement of a neighbourhood favourite, with lovely flavours and textures in most of the dishes and definitely enough on the menu to warrant a return visit.
- Most of our table had their eye on the “Spiedo Bresciano” which is a traditional Brescian spit roast of pork neck, chicken and pork ribs with sage and burnt butter and there was disappointment all round when we were informed that they had already sold out the limited portions of the dish.
- Service was friendly, but as mentioned, the restaurant was super busy so it did take a while before we were able to get our orders taken and for our food to arrive. Also, please note that an 8% surcharge applies on Sundays.
197 High Street
Willoughby NSW 2068
T: (02) 9958 1110
W: Via Alta