Cuisine: Italian

This family-friendly Italian trattoria, tucked away in a tiny shopping enclave, is about 45 minutes north of the CBD but you’d be happy to drive twice that far for its cucina rustica. Hot and cold antipasti are mounded on wooden blocks (one selection serves four to six $30–$90) and more than a dozen varieties of pizza $17–$25 go in and out of the wood-fired oven. Far more than a pizzeria, though, Cavallino comes up with the goods on pasta and main courses as well: oven-roasted pesce del giorno with browned potatoes and salad, market price (our snapper was $35), and housemade gnocchi napoletana $21 are just two of many choices. On Tuesdays a special pizza and beer night, $24 per cover, is pulling in the locals — why not join them?

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Cuisine: Italian,Austrian

Chef/owner Robert Baierl is the driving force behind this award-winning Austrian restaurant. The unpretentious, welcoming mood of the place is created in part by the red-and-white checked tablecloths and rustic wooden tables, but also by the genuinely friendly service. Although the menu changes with the seasons, you can be guaranteed good, honest European fare made with fresh produce all year long. A word of warning: don’t go too hard too early — the servings are generous to say the least. If you must, start with a titbit of crumbed mushrooms in tartare sauce $15.80 or line the stomach with a serve of pork crackling dumplings. For main, roasted pork knuckle $27.50 falls off the bone or try the equally tender twice-cooked slow-roasted duck with pear, potato and red cabbage $27.50 and you’ll emerge very pleased.


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Cuisine: Italian,Austrian,Modern Australian

Set amid tranquil bamboo and bonsai gardens, the Buddha Belly promises more than just an eating exercise. Losing track of time thanks to your peaceful surroundings is a big part of the experience. Housed in Balinese-style pavilions with shingled roofing, the restaurant serves up a variety of Asian-inspired dishes. Starters include garlic and chilli king prawns done in a sizzling hotpot $17 and miso and herb butter scallops $18. Twice-cooked duck $28 is a talked-about main, but our pick was a zesty Asian salad of king prawns, smoked trout and crabmeat $28. Finish with a white chocolate and mango brulee $13 and, like the chubby deity this place is named after, you know you’ll go home with your belt let out a notch.


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