With the office Christmas party looming, many a social club director will be looking for the perfect place to please everyone, within the constraints of budget. If you’re the one struggling, this venue is an accessible, middle-of-the-road Italian restaurant conveniently located for both parking and public transport. I’d take the latter and leave the wine in the capable hands of owner Tracey Hughes. She’s a star on the floor with genuine warmth and her seductive description of the 2007 Joseph Cattin Pinot Blanc ($45) involved toasting the insides of the wooden barrels to produce the yummy caramel notes the wine displayed so readily. The dishes of her brother, Head Chef Ashley Hughes, celebrate simplicity with the hand-made Focaccia and Grissini ($2) being a great example. The best way to sample his menu is in the extremely well-priced 6-Course Degustation ($65/head), which includes dishes like the tasty Char-Grilled Black Angus Fillet with Fresh Baby Peas ($35); the zingy Fettuccine with King Prawns, Tomatoes and Nduja Salami ($22/$30); and the approachable entree of Prosciutto, Rocket, Walnut, and Pear with Gorgonzola Dressing ($22). À la carte diners have the ability to add a refreshing Blood Orange Sorbet ($3) between entrees and mains – an unusual, unpretentious & egalitarian twist!
5 Baptist St, Surry Hills
Ph: (02) 8394-9368 www.alio.com.au
Modern Italian $$$$