Selected reviews from Good Food Under $30 2014

Pizza e Birra

The charcoal and sepia fit-out, classic bentwood chairs and intimate bar instantly seduces. By the time you’re warmly welcomed and seated with complimentary olives, swiftly followed by authentically crisp pizzas or creamy gnocchi, you’ll be smitten. But when staff describe Italian wine in accents suggesting they grew up in the vineyard next door, and then don’t relax until they’ve freed up the ‘good’ glasses to match, it’s a full-blown restaurant love affair. These detail-obsessives might just intercept and fix any urgent work or nanny text before it even pings. By meal’s end you’re practically family, so leaving without trying homemade tiramisu or profiteroles would just be rude.

Luxe Bakery

A heartbeat away from Prince Alfred Hospital, it’s de rigueur to arrive pager in hand or stethoscope slung around the neck; you half expect to find Scrub’s Zach Braff ordering a double shot of the smooth house-blend. The medical fraternity must approve of the superb made-in-house sourdoughs, fresh salads and creative soups. A pea fritter has caramelised and lightly charred flavours, perfect with tangy harissa sauce, tuna and precision poached egg. Finish with a lavender and blueberry tart or delicate carrot cake. Beware the flirty staff’s winning ways though: you might find yourself asking the nearest physician to check your racing heart.

Gelbison

Bondi may be synonymous with beautiful bodies that haven’t had a meaningful relationship with carbs since Gelbison opened back in the 20th century, but that doesn’t stop waves of diners washing up here like sets breaking off the distant Ben Buckler headland. This bright, crowded, noisy, unashamedly old-school eatery serves up a dizzying array of thin crust pizzas, including a legendary fresh tomato and rocket “zingara”. But we recommend homemade specials such as pot-baked gnocchi with bocconcini, or pappardelle with mussels, king prawns and tender and sweet half crab. Finish with homemade ricotta cake cooked to sweet perfection and worry about calorie counts tomorrow.

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