La Repubblica
51 The Esplanade
Balmoral, Sydney

Sitting in an idyllic location looking out over parklands flowing down to Balmoral Beach, La Repubblica is almost like a hidden treasure. It's a beautiful old building with real charm and character.

Inside it is pleasant with nice decor and a spacious airy comfortable feel to it. La Repubblica has a downstairs area with some tables and a bar. They also do take away coffee, gelato and some food for breakfasts and also during summer. Upstairs is the main dining area with spectacular views and tables that are very well spaced. It's understandably popular here for weddings too. We were there to try the new menu which had started just two months ago.

We started with the Parmesan tempura zucchini flowers stuffed with crab meat, lemon thyme and ricotta. These were absolutely delicious. The lightly crisp outer and soft gooey inner was a great blend of textures and it all just melted in the mouth. The sweetness of the crab and the tangyness of the salad worked very well together too. We love stuffed zucchini flowers and these were great.

Our next starter was the black ink spaghettini with smoked salmon, tarragon and baby spinach. Mlady loves black ink pasta and the colour variation it gives to a meal - she even bought some homemade fresh black ink spaghetti on a recent trip to Rutherglen. The flavours went well together - smoked salmon and pasta is a great combination - and anything with smoked salmon is always going to keep a smile on my face!

Our third entree - yes we were really being pigs tonight - was angel hair pasta with crab meat, zucchini and chilli basil.

The lovely sprinkling of roe on top was an unexpected bonus as well and it combined beautifully adding flavour and subtle colour to this lovely dish.

Again the blend of seafood and pasta was a great mix in terms of appearance and taste.

For her main course, Mlady, being a huge fan of salmon, had the basil crusted salmon with fennel fritata and cherry tomato glaze.

The salmon was delicious. The fish was perfectly cooked and the basil crusting was, is and always will be a partner that is one of her personal favourites.

The fennel fritata was a lovely side to the very tasty salmon.

A tasty caprese salad accompanied our meal and added a fresh crispness.

The dressing was fantastic as well with a slightly sweet balsamic reduction being quite addictive.

The chef here, Jamil, is so passionate about his food and what he serves, and this comes through in every dish.

He's also not afraid to experiment - and the results are certainly worth trying.

My main course was the slow cooked beef cheeks with truffled potato, cavalo nero and a Chianti reduction.

This was a big, full, hearty, cold weather meal. The beef cheeks had been cooked for around ten hours at a very low temperature and it practically melted in my mouth.

I loved it and the truffled mashed potato was a wonderful accompaniment.

The drizzle of Chianti reduction set the whole dish off perfectly as well. This all went very nicely with a few glasses of 2011 Cullen Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot from Margaret River in Western Australia.

If you've ever read many of our reviews before you would probably know that Mlady is a creme brulee fan - actually a lover of it!

This smooth and creamy Frangellico creme brulee was a lovely mix of decadent flavour and textures.

It was also a very generous serving that was almost an effort to finish after our substantial meals - but that didn't stop her and she soldiered on until the end. What a trooper!

I couldn't resist the tiramisu - which came served in a gelato glass so you could see all the layers. It had a lovely coffee flavour that wasn't overpowering. It was thick (but not to thick) rich, delicious and one of the best around leaving you wanting more (even though we were so full already)!

Accompanying our desserts we had a lovely muscat from Chambers of Rutherglen. We'd only been at the winery a few weeks earlier and we're more than happy to admit it is one of our favourites and we always leave there a little bit poorer but with a much heavier car!

Chambers Muscat

La Repubblica is a charming restaurant in a beautiful location. The food is delicious with great flavours and generous servings. Service is efficient and very friendly. It's a place well worth visiting, especially now in winter before the bigger summer crowds re-appear.

Sir and Mlady dined as guests of La Repubblica. Thanks to owners Mousa and Merja Nader, Joseph Nader and Daniel Galati. Thanks also to Wayne for looking after us.

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