While Australia has predominantly made its name as an exporter of rocks and crops, there has been a quiet export revolution going on over the last decade and it’s influencing the world’s palate - in particular South-East Asia’s.
Chef David Thompson of nahm restaurant at Bangkok’s ultra-stylish Como Metropolitan may have been the regional trailblazer but over the last few years the region has been inundated with leading Aussie restaurateurs ranging from the superstars such as Tetsuya Wakuda to countless others with experience behind the stoves of some of the world’s top restaurants.
Everything is connected
Upping the antipodean ante is Da Maria in Bali - the incarnation of Australian restaurant maven Maurice Terzini of Icebergs Dining fame.
Terzini and Adrian Reed of Motel Mexicola joined together to open the osteria-style eatery which also contains a bar and disco spinning tunes into the early morning hours as well as a boutique.
Reflecting’s Terzini’s own broad background and interests, Da Maria highlights the diversity of Italian food, wine, music, fashion, art and friends, with more than a little Capri in the heart of Seminyak.
For Terzini who refers to the venue as “North Bondi Italian on steroids” in reference to one of his former Sydney eateries, Da Maria is an evolution of his philosophy that everything is connected – food, wine, fashion, art, music and friends.
“They all go into the melting pot to create special places where all the elements come together naturally.”
Cool Italian flair
As for the design, Carl Pickering from Rome’s Lazarini Pickering Architects was briefed to create a cool, fresh space that also felt like a garden. A place redolent of Italy’s Amalfi Coast but also a space that has a sense of its place in Bali.
The result: unpretentious simplicity with the clean European sensibility offset by typically verdant Balinese greenery of rubber trees, cacti and passionfruit vines spiraling down the walls. The ceiling of Da Maria is the most incredible design element, with Pickering referring to it as "Bali's Sistine Chapel".
As for the food with former Pier-alumni Steven Skelly behind the pans, it’s a fun and accessible menu that represents a modern approach to simple, classic Italian flavours, with pizza undoubtedly front and centre.
Elegant, simple cuisine
Pizzas are cooked in local, Naples inspired lava stone ovens and a particular highlight is the traditional Italian Porchetta (whole local pig) marinated in local herbs and cooked slowly over coals.
On the dessert front, the Da Maria Tiramisu is a house specialty of watermelon served over fresh ice with optional Campari, lime sherbet or chilli salt.
According to Skelly, “We are offering traditional Italian food, done correctly, in a modern environment without trying to reinvent the wheel.”
Beyond the restaurant, the bar at Da Maria has a very Bar Americano feel and focuses on elegant simplicity. Many of their in-house liqueurs are made on the premises, including their vermouth.
And there’s more with iconic Sydney DJ and event producer, Kali from Picnic curating the music and live DJs every night after 10.30pm. Finally, the boutique, Da Maria Shop by Ten Pieces, features a collection of fashion for those keen on a life of sybaritic pleasure.