It’s not all about the great wave of gastropub makeovers in Sydney when it comes to refocused quality dining in local institutions. Many of the city’s outer suburbs are looking to their local clubs to introduce stronger food and drink offerings, a demand slowly but surely being met across the board. Take Canterbury League Club as a shining example; they’ve been working on expanding their dining precinct as of late, most recently opening Lavico, a new Italian restaurant with aims to highlight the differences between various regions of Italy.
Lavico, which means lava in Italian, is fueled by Executive Chef Stephanie Azar and her diverse approach to Italian cooking techniques. She benefits from having a wealth of experience across many different regions in Italy, which has evidently taught her the importance of serving food the way it would be served in any Italian household: generous, simple and full of flavour. That’s the promise here, and it’s a step in the right direction, away from the often uninspired and expected club restaurant.
Though that’s not to say the restaurant isn’t completely in-tune to what locals are used to; there’s enough variety here to appeal to just about everyone. Especially since there’s a whopping 18 (4 oil base; 14 tomato base) different pizzas on the menu, all coming from a dedicated pizza chef, Maruzio Bruno, who has been immersed in the art of pizza making since the age of 14. Bruno has his own recipe for the dough as well as a recipe for authentic pizza sauce, which was passed to him while he was growing up learning the ins and outs of pizza from his mentor, an old Italian nonna. The result is a comprehensive pizza menu that spans options like the Proscuitto Arugula with fior de latte cheese, mozzarella, shaved parmesan, garlic oil, rocket, and balsamic glaze; the Prawn & Feta with Spanish onion, chilli, and fresh rocket; and a Vegetarian option with grilled eggplant, mushroom, artichoke, sundried tomato, crumbed feta and fresh rocket.
As far as other dishes go, the menu is stacked with various starters, sides, salads, meats, seafood, pasta, risotto, dessert and a five-dish kids selection. The Gnocchi Mare e Monte seems to be a top-choice for regulars, served with prawns and avocado in a rosé sauce, as does the fan-favourite Spaghetti Pescatore which comes with a seafood medley of prawns, squid and mussels tossed with chilli, garlic white wine, parsley, and a light tomato sugo.
There seems to be plenty of share-friendly dishes to really focus in on the family environment. The BBQ Seafood Plate sounds dreamy with its selection of prawns, octopus, barramundi, calamari, Morton Bay bugs, chips, and salad; as does the Spiedini Antipasto serving which features skewers of boccocini, tomato, roasted capsicum, artichoke, chips and salad. For those who like keeping their mains solo there’s also plenty to choose, from a 300g Beef Scotch Fillet to veal topped with eggplant and provolone, finished in tomato sugo and served with mash and seasonal vegetables.
That generous Mediterranean style of dining also spills over to Lavico’s playful design, which incorporates a green canopy, fairy lights and colourful Bougainvillea – a pleasant move away from your typical club restaurant. The warm and welcoming scene, which seems most inspired by the Tuscan region, is the kind of energetic, festive atmosphere that speaks well to this style of dining, placing Lavico as a strong example of how the clubs of Sydney – often looked to as expressions of their locale – can start bringing stronger dining options to an often overlook scene; one that has been needing a good makeover for a good while now.
Address: Canterbury League Club; 26 Bridge Rd, Belmore NSW 2192
Contact: (02) 9704 7777
Hours: Fri-Sun 12pm-3pm (lunch); Wed-Sun 6pm-10pm + Fri-Sat 6pm-10:30pm (dinner)
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