A four day long weekend holds such great promise for rest and fun. And this recent Easter Monday saw us taking a little road trip out to Dural with our partners in crime Queen Viv and Miss America to buy fruit and to try an Italian restaurant called Bel Fiore. On the menu are dishes like spaghetti with crab and "Pearls" of gnocchi filled with ricotta, parmesan and buffalo mozzarella!
So there we were: Mr NQN in the driver's seat, me in the front passenger seat. Queen Viv was behind him and Miss America was behind me. "Well you know I write horror stories about my friends!" says Queen Viv conversationally. I always learn something new about my friends every time I see them. Then Queen Viv tells us tales of her crazy neighbours including the man that spreads wet cat food all over his entire car to attract cats. I swear you could not make this stuff up...
We were on our little road trip out to Dural during the Easter weekend and these funny little tales reverberate around the inside of our car, laughter bouncing off windows. We had set out after 3pm and make it there in record time owing to the mass exodus of Sydneysiders over the long break. We drive around looking for fruit stands. Mr NQN and I had a great memory of driving through Dural and stopping by little stands that sold fruit grown in the backyard orchards of the sprawling estates and we are on the hunt for them again.
We find a couple of fruit stands. The first (around Galston Road) is wonderfully ramshackle with incredibly reasonable prices and a metal box in which we put our money. We buy a box of persimmons-a steal at $5 for 9 perfectly ripe, jammy centered bright orange fruit. Miss America buy 3 corn cobs for $1, 3 tomatoes for $1 and 3 limes for the same price all while oohing and ahhing over the generously sized home made jams.
This is followed by a quick stop for a drink at the Pie in The Sky as we save our appetites for dinner. We drive down the twisted, windy road and board the Berowra Waters ferry in our car. It is a free service that goes back and forth across Berowra Waters. Miss America shrieks, "There's no waves! Are we moving? You call that a ferry? I want to be seasick!" he dramatises over the smooth and quick passage across the Hawkesbury River.
We finally arrive at our destination for dinner. Bel Fiore in Dural that was recommended to me by a reader many, many moons ago. It's a casual restaurant with pizza and pasta full of family groups this evening. My Dear Reader had recommended that we make sure that we have the burrata cheese as they make it in house. It has been a while because currently they buy it in but it's a moot point as they are out of it. Mea culpa for not calling ahead to reserve one (if that is at all possible). We order a bottle of wine. The smells are promising from the kitchen. Service is more straightforward than warm but it's not unfriendly or unhelpful.
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Queen Viv loves the sound of the zucchini flowers. They're not usually a dish I go for but it was her only request. They are said to be stuffed with ricotta and crab meat. None of us really taste or see the crab meat and the presentation is very simple.
Oh how I do love a meatball and these are very good. They come with four slices of bread ($1 extra) and a rich tomato sauce. The meatballs themselves are wonderfully tender and we take to it scooping up every last bit of sauce with our bread.
The food comes out quickly, especially for a restaurant that is very full. We don't often order specials but this one sounded just too good to pass up. It is our favourite dish of the night. They are a chef's version of a gnocchi but filled with ricotta, parmesan and buffalo mozzarella in a basil and Napoletana sauce. I wish I had a whole dish of this to myself as the filling is generous and creamy and the simple basil Napoletana sauce is the perfect accompaniment.
The wood fired pizzas look like they have a lot of toppings. I think I was attracted to this by the name and by the smoked scarmoza cheese. The Il Bastardo has mozzarella, garlic, napoletana base, pepperoni, mushrooms, Spanish onion, smoked scarmoza cheese and oregano.
I love those really puffy Napoletana style bases and this isn't quite like those. It's not bad but I want a bit of kick to it and I ask for some chilli oil - this isn't very spicy. If I had to choose out of pizza or pasta, I'd definitely pick the pastas here.
We are still a bit hungry (Queen Viv and Miss America are very small eaters so we don't tend to order very much when we eat out with them) so we decide to order another pasta. We ask about the amount of crab in the spaghetti and crab dish as we think back to the zucchini flowers that didn't seem to have much. Our waitress assures us that there is a lot of crab. I really enjoy this dish with plenty of cherry tomatoes, blue swimmer crab meat and a "pink" sauce with tomato and cream. It's generous with crab and well sized too.
*Dessert Platter *
We dither over the desserts pizzas at $17.90 but we decide to go for a desert platter for $22.90. There are three desserts: a tiramisu, a chocolate mousse slice and a meringue with cream and fruit. I thought that our waitress had mentioned figs on the meringue but it comes with raspberries. It's my favourite of the plate followed by the chocolate mousse.
And we end the meal off with a complimentary house made liqueur. There's a choice: mandarincello, limoncello and sambuca. Cheers to crazy friends!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you ever go on little road trips like this? And if you had to choose, would you go for a pizza or pasta dish generally speaking? And what did you get up to this Easter long weekend?
Bel Fiore Wood Fire Pizza
22-24 Kenthurst Rd, Dural NSW 2158
Phone:(02) 9653 9395
OPen 5:30-10pm 7 days a week