All successful restaurateurs have OCD levels of “i” dotting and “t” crossing. Some, like Lyndon Waples, the dashing owner of Il Lido and Canteen Pizza, somehow make perfection look easy.
He was gifted a terrific concept and good bones by hospitality and brewing entrepreneur Nic Trimboli, who launched Il Lido nearly a decade ago before selling to Waples. Since then, the new owner has undertaken a minor décor refresh and doubled down on what was already an epic wine list.
And it hasn’t missed a beat.
It is widely accepted (along with Vans in Napoleon Street) to be the go-to restaurant of the western suburbs. It’s accessible, the food is well cooked and interesting, the wine staff know a thing or two (and typically make well-judged recommendations), the long table, canteen concept is convivial and the whole, bustling, beachside all-dayer is, well, just wonderful. Which is where the “looking easy” bit comes in.
This is a high turnover restaurant from just after dawn till late and yet the service and food are delivered with aplomb, without fuss and with a certain in grande stile, as they say in Italy. It’s a smooth operation. The food is Italian to its bootstraps and well executed by long-time chef, Roberto Zampogna. It’s all good, but the pasta and rice dishes are notable. Risotto with porcini, red wine and goat cheese is an ambrosial master class in Italian rice cookery. House-made ravioli with buffalo ricotta, stracciatella, cavolo nero and pistachio is comforting and earthy and saucy.
Our perennial favourite is orecchiette with crumbled fennel pork sausage, broccoli, chilli and parmesan.
Energetic young wine boffin James Tuxworth is Il Lido’s sommelier. His list and his knowledge of it are a real boon for customers who want to try something a little different or want to pony up for some serious and expensive Italian or Australian wines.
Il Lido comes with our highest recommendation.