Balla is an easy lunch spot for a yummy mummy catch up with kids in tow. There's something celebratory about eating by the water on a beautiful spring afternoon.
What once was the entrance to The Star, escalators with a feature water fountain has been replaced by Balla, a massive, 160-seater split-level room awash with light by day from the huge glass cantilevered window looking onto Pyrmont Bay with city views and mood lit by night. I'm appreciative of the engineering design providing floor to ceiling glass windows that also open on the command of an iPad.
With sun, sea and sails setting the scene, the tables line the windows at Stefano Manfredi's Osteria Balla, the modern decor dazzles with the geometric ceiling, terrazzo columns, hand blown amber glass lights, webbed dining chairs. I may need to get some tips from designer Luigi Rosselli for a future renovation.
The first item on the menu that grabs my attention is seared scallops with pea purée, broad bean and organic cous cous such a simple dish but certainly a delicious luxury. Followed by squid ink tagliolini with spanner crab, zucchini, garlic and chilli.
Stefano Manfredi's casual approach to Italian cooking in which produce, freshness and flavour are prioritised is definitely my style eating.
Balla's Italian menu includes antipasti to salumi to pasta to fish to meat. You can see the meats curing hanging in a glass cabinet at the front entrance of the restaurant.
Balla also offers an express lunch menu. One course $19 or two courses $34.
Always leaving room for dessert, we umm'ed and ahhh'ed over the selection. Thank goodness they offer a tasting plate with creamy brûlée, pistachio semifreddo, boozy coffee tiramisu and a cleansing sorbet.
Service here is attentive, quick and friendly. Balla is a place that feels most like a place you'd want to just drop by and hang out mid-week especially with those wonderful floor to ceiling open to the wonderful view.