In the middle of winter, trying to find an open cafe in the Hunter Valley can sometimes be a bit hit and miss. When tourist numbers are low, many places close early or aren't open every day of the week, and for the unsuspecting visitor, hungry and in need of sustenance, it is nice to know there are dependable destinations.
Searching for a cooked breakfast mid-week, we stopped at Pokolbin Village, a selection of shops selling locally made wine and food, chocolate, clothing and giftware (they also have accommodation).
Sitting in the middle, ready to give strength to shoppers, is Vittorio's Italian. Luckily for us it was open for breakfast and like the other customers who joined us later, we found ourselves grouped together at end of the restaurant where a pot-belly was providing a generous warmth on a wet winters day.
The breakfast menu consists of all your standard breakfast options: muesli (with grains, fruit and yoghurt, $8.50), buttermilk pancakes with strawberry compote, maple syrup and banana ($15.50), traditional omelette with deli ham, tomato, shallots and cheese ($15.50) and Eggs Benedict with a choice of ham, smoked salmon or spinach and tomato ($16).
The Big Breakfast includes bacon, mushrooms, hash brown, sausages, tomato, eggs on toasted Turkish bread for the price of $18.50.
I am a fan of slightly more unusual breakfasts though, so my choice was the Vittorio's Breakfast Burger: a large fried egg, two strips of bacon, fresh tomato, cheese and a hash brown layered generously between toasted Turkish bread.
I was offered the choice of BBQ or tomato sauce, and for the extremely reasonable price of $10 it was excellent value. It was filling enough to satisfy but I did not leave worried that our hotly anticipated Devonshire Tea later that morning was going to cause problems.
My lovely travel companion ordered the grilled bacon and eggs on toasted Turkish bread ($14.50) with a side of grilled tomato ($2.50). Although she received two eggs and I only had one in my burger, her breakfast was actually smaller than mine and cost $7 more.
The coffee was tasty and hot, and the room was comfortable with crisp white walls, polished wooden floor, decorative mirrors and the occasional splash of colour. It would have been nice to see a few more smiles from behind the counter, especially since the day outside was already quite grey.
Vittorio's is open seven days a week from 8am and offers breakfast, morning and afternoon tea, and lunch from noon. This makes it a reliable destination all year round. The surrounding shops such as the lovely Tempt gift shop and the Smelly Cheese Shop make Pokolbin Village a natural destination.
Vittorio's is also open for dinner Friday, Saturday and Sundays including all you can eat pizza nights from $25 per person. You can also order BBQ and picnic hampers.