I love travelling and writing, meeting people and experiencing foodie places.
Published April 27th 2021
Best Waterfront Views with Sensational Food
Manly has some of the best waterfront views in Sydney. Standing atop the rugged cliffs, the panoramic view across to the Sydney skyline is spectacular. Yachts skimming the surface, ferries carrying passengers from Circular Quay to Manly, as well as the historic square rigger, Soren Larsen, cruising the harbour. It is a stunning scene.
Sydney is blessed with outstanding ocean views and North Head Scenic Drive is no exception. It's a five minute drive from Manly's hub or a forty-five minute uphill walk, past the former Manly Hospital. As we drove through the sandstone archway, towards North Fort, the scene expands to reveal glimmering indigo ocean, across to Watsons Bay, lapping against the craggy cliffs, the sun glinting on its lighthouse.
After parking the car near the Visitors Centre, my husband and I strolled down to the Bella Vista Café Manly, located inside the heritage-listed North Fort building. The café and its magnificent location were the main purpose of our visit. My husband had spotted the café some time ago when involved in a walking group and felt that today was a sparkling, sunny, autumnal day to get out and be tourists in our own backyard.
We had booked in advance for a weekend lunch, anticipating a crowd. On arrival, the outside tables, shaded by a gorgeous over-hanging tree, were busy with customers. We were shown to our table inside, a window seat in the corner – the best seat in the house. We had sweeping views across the green to the majestic body of water that appeared to have no end. Bella Vista lives up to its English translation of beautiful view.
It was quiet inside, with only two other tables of diners. More guests arrived thirty minutes later so we had a peaceful time taking in the scene before us and absorbing the wonderful menu. Bella Vista is light-filled, with expansive windows taking maximum advantage of the main event outside.
The friendly waitress handed us the menus and informed us of the specials. We perused the mouth-watering options. It was not an extensive menu and nor should it be, as the cafe caters for a variety of food requirements and their menu advises that the waitstaff will help in selecting a dish if there are allergies.
Bella Vista promotes traditional and modern Italian cuisine. We were not let down, their food was delightful. Our antipasti was the sourdough, thick spongey slices, exactly how I like it, with extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic. A wonderful start to our lunch.
For the secondi, my husband chose the pan-roasted barramundi, cauliflower puree, quinoa and pomegranate salad. He thoroughly enjoyed the mix of flavours. I chose the porchetta, a slow-roasted rosemary and fennel pork belly which was absolutely delicious. Alongside this meaty dish was a wonderful salad accompaniment of blood orange and marinated eggplant with a vincotto dressing.
These were hearty dishes but we always have room for dessert. My husband chose the ricotta cheesecake, which was delectable, and my apple crumble cake with icecream was superb. Dessert topped off a wonderful lunch.
After lunch, we wandered along the greenscape. A few people sat on the lush green or in the back of their vans, taking full advantage of the sunny day and the beautiful vista. Even the local brush turkey took advantage of the sunshine.
We made our way past the Visitors Centre to Australia's Memorial Walk, which honours Australian defence personnel. A short stroll through the bush, we heard unusual bird sounds then suddenly a flock of large black cockatoos spun from the bushes soaring above us, then quickly disappeared into another bushy expanse further on.
I will definitely return for a tour of this interesting place, and absolutely rank Bella Vista at the top of my go-to cafes for lunch. Delicious meal, professional and approachable waitstaff, with an unforgettable view. Don't wait, it's worth the visit.