Piccolo's Cafe on Darling Street in Rozelle is easy to spot from the street. Even with a chilly, windy 10° morning there is a crowd ten people thick waiting for their name to be called and their booking struck through with a pen on the front window. They're waiting for a menu laden with items like Cairo Eggs, Shakshuka, Mama's Felafel or Dukkha Dukkha reflecting the owners' Egyptian heritage. Breakfast goes until noon and then a lunch menu kicks in but there's plenty to find on both.
As we drive past searching for an elusive park I point it out to Mr NQN. "Geez," he says eyeing the crowd outside. "Do we have a booking?" he asks. I explain that brothers Fady and Andrew Soliman that own Piccolo's Cafe are friends of Nina and Garth's and this prompted our visit. "Well they're wrestling friends actually so I'm not sure what category of friendship that falls under if you've had someone pin you down and sweat all over you. It sounds intimate but it probably isn't," I muse aloud. Must check with Nina what that means.
The cafe is welcoming and warm inside and surprisingly large as there is a partially covered area down the stairs from the main room. We're a little early which prompts Nina to notice as I'm always late to training. "It's funny because you are early for food but late for training..." she observes. Oops! Guilty as charged...
We order coffees and teas. It's a pot of sticky chai for me with a light amount of sweetness from honey. It's a substantial pot and it seems I can refill my cup several times before it seems close to running out.
The thing with Nina is that she often has issues eating out. Even though she orders something from the menu it won't arrive, or it will be wrong or she won't receive a meal at all. But thankfully this fate does not befall her on this occasion and our meals arrive at the same time along with a bucket of cutlery.
The beef brisket is slow braised with smokey paprika and is topped with a green and red cabbage slaw, herbs and plety of sun dried tomato aioli on a warm, soft clay oven baked flat bread. It's cut in half and is a delicious, soft and filling sandwich, made even more substantial with the addition of the side of golden, super crunchy potatoes and thinly shaved zucchini.
Said to be their signature dish the Piccolo Breakie is a crispy, cheesy corn fritter served with soft centered poached eggs, slices of crispy grilled bacon and a home made hollandaise sauce. It's a great version of an eggs benny with a flavoursome corn fritter replacing the muffin.
This wasn't what I was expecting visually and it's simple but I have to admit that Mr NQN and I really loved the flavours of the Cairo Eggs. It's a toasted pita bread topped with Cairo style fried eggs cooked in cumin infused browned butter, pieces of lamb merguez sausage and labne sauce. It is cut up into quarters and very easy to eat, the egg yolks luxuriously runny. The beef brisket is perhaps better value and more substantial but I loved the Middle Eastern flavours in this dish.
The Dukkha Dukkha is Nina's choice. I didn't try any but it looked great. She liked it but was hoping that it would have been a bit bigger. "I'm a big eater," warns Nina and then the secrets spill out. Garth divulges that über healthy Nina has three secret addictions: pizza, hot chips and almond Magnums. The hot chips and Magnums are news to me and I suddenly see her in a more "normal" light. And while the breakfast was a good size we split another breakfast because it was too cold a day to venture out again.
The last item is a Bubble and Squeek (sic) that is sweet potato and zucchini infused fritter on a slice of dark rye sourdough bread with halloumi, fried egg, sweet potato crisps and pea puree. It isn't bad at all, quite good in fact but after the bold, meaty flavours of the above dishes it's a bit muted in comparison. I also would have loved more halloumi. But then life should always come with a double serve of halloumi.
There is a sweets cabinet and it's already quite depleted given the cafe's popularity. They're bought in treats from healthy brownies to indulgent sticky buns. We pass on the sweets in lieu of visiting the nearby Rozelle markets and finding some well priced treasures of the antique variety.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you know someone that often has issues when they eat out (or do you)? And what sort of friend would you call a wrestling friend? Do you think the physical contact would make them closer?
This meal was independently paid for.
626 Darling Street, Rozelle, Sydney, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9818 7950
Open 7 days 6:30am-3:30pm (opens at 7:30am on weekends)