While I was writing my post on my favourite dining experiences of 2013 a few weeks ago, I realised that the favourite venue I visited in 2013 was Cipro Pizza al Taglio in Alexandria, NSW. Every aspect of this meal was spectacular, including the food, service and atmosphere.
Before our last weekend in Sydney, A did a lot of research on where we should eat. She did an amazing job at picking excellent restaurants, as our weekend consisted of great food experiences. During her research, A came across Cipro Pizza al Taglio in Alexandria through Gourmet Traveller and after reading that it was headed up by two previous chefs of Rockpool Bar & Grill, she was determined to go there for dinner.
Cipro Pizza al Taglio differs from Rockpool Bar & Grill completely, as it’s a family friendly, casual neighbourhood eatery that serves hearty but spectacular food. We headed to Cipro early on a Saturday evening, after learning through their facebook page that they close at 9pm. When we arrived, it was just before 6pm and the venue was quiet, with only a handful of young families in the restaurant. Seeing as though we were so early, we decided to take our evening at a very slow rate, starting with drinks and appetisers.
The drinks menu is simplistic and short, with drinks consisting of a handful of Italian wines and beers. A and I ordered a glass of Prosecco each ($9), which arrived in little water glasses. Later on in the night, we saw a table nearby unpacking their own champagne glasses – obviously the water glasses were a big no-no for them but for us, we saw it as a salute to the casual vibe Cipro is obviously striving for.
We ordered the marinated olives and parmesan biscuits ($6) to start with. This was the first time I sampled parmesan biscuits, which are similar to shortbread but with a strong parmesan taste to it. They were super soft and buttery and went exceptionally well with the marinated olives.
I fell in love with arancini during our trip to Italy last year, so I ordered the two arancini’s on offer – aranicini with pork ragu and mozzarella ($2.75ea) and arancini with pea and provolone ($2.75ea). The pea and provolone arancini featured baby peas, which kept there texture with the provolone oozing from the centre. I also loved the arancini with pork ragu, which had a heap of flavour. These arancini’s were on par to the ones I fell in love with in Italy.
Cipro have a variety of pre-made pizza slabs on offer within glass cabinets, with the list of pizza’s on offer hanging from one of the walls in the dining room. A left me to choose which pizza to order, so I chose a slice of the mushroom, artichoke, thyme, parmesan and fontina pizza ($12). We loved the pizza base, which was voluminous but light with a little bit of crunch. The artichoke was soft, there were lots of mushies and perfectly seasoned.
A ordered the Fish of the Day – wood-fire grilled sword fish ($32) with a herb sauce. Sword fish is the perfect fish to cook on the grill, with the meat being so firm and the texture helps prevent the steak from falling apart. The simple herb sauce added flavour to the subtle flavour of the fish and A enjoyed this main.
I ordered the wood-fire grilled octopus with eggplant puree, lemon and herb salsa ($18). This was an amazing dish and was my favourite dish of 2013 – the octopus was expertly grilled and the flavour from the wood-fire was perfectly contrasted with the eggplant puree.
Both of our mains were perfectly paired with the iceberg and avocado vinaigrette salad ($9), which was light and refreshing.
During A’s research, she read that the dessert chef at Cipro, Catherine Adams, was previously the dessert chef at Rockpool Bar & Grill. We decided to share the flourless chocolate cake ($9). A doesn’t typically order or enjoy chocolate desserts but even so, we found ourselves pondering whether we should order another serving – it was delicious. The chocolate cake was soft, light and had a strong cocoa flavour to it but was paired perfectly with the freshly whipped cream. Catherine Adams’ desserts remain Rockpool standard but without the hefty price-tag.
On the way out, I noticed the nutter butter peanut oat biscuits ($4.25) that were on display at the till area. I decided to order one, with the premise of saving it for the next day. I walked out of the restaurant and decided to have a small bite to sample it – this cookie remains to be the best cookie I’ve been lucky enough to try. The oat-based cookie was a little chewy and the peanut butter buttercream filling was a standout – extremely naughty but oh-so-nice. I didn’t want to share it with A but she swindled in giving her half. Next time I’m there, I’ll be stocking up!
A and I left Cipro so impressed and a little jealous of Sydneysiders, who are lucky enough to have this spectacular eatery in their vicinity. We’ve made a pledge to return to Cipro on our next trip, as one visit is not enough!