Cuisine: Japanese

With chef Hideto Shimizu’s fusion of modern Japanese and European cuisine, A La Façon de Shimizu has become a popular fixture in the north shore dining scene. The curved wooden walls of this eatery housed a French restaurant for almost 30 years, a history reflected in both the menu and the decor. Kick off the evening with “muscargot” $13, grilled mussels with escargot butter and soy sauce. How does that work? Trust us, it just does. Mains include red-wine-braised eel $23 and tender lamb cutlets marinated in garlic and herbed oil and served with Shimizu’s original miso sauce $27. The succulent duck leg confit is a house specialty, starting from $18. All mains are complemented by a buckwheat noodle salad
and vegetables.

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Cuisine: Japanese,Pizza,Lebanese

Long loved by locals, Arax has been serving up Lebanese cuisine and excellent wood-fired pizza for so long the restaurant has actually been granted Heritage status by the local council. Start with dips: muhammara (red capsicum, walnuts, pomegranate and breadcrumbs) and cauliflower dips, both $12, taste as good as they look. Wood-fired pizza $18–$30 mostly follows the Italian formula but for the Thai chicken satay with peanuts and shallots $22 or the seafood supreme with king prawns, scallops and Atlantic salmon $30. For a main, the mixed plate $35 gives a sampler of kofta, laham michwee (barbecued lamb) and felafel served with dips. Samke harrah, grilled fish fillets with tahini, lemon juice, coriander and pine nuts $30, gives some relief from fried things. Book on Saturday night to see the bellydancer.

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Cuisine: Japanese,Pizza,Lebanese,Italian

Italians are all about family and food in equal measure, and sitting down to a meal in this cosy Willoughby restaurant you’ll get the feeling you’re a close cousin of the family running the place. The Peregos have been serving quality Italian cuisine here for over a quarter of a century. The restaurant itself is very family-friendly — you’ll regularly see big groups with a couple of youngsters getting messy with their spaghetti. The pasta is authentic and homely, usually with just the right amounts of chilli, garlic and olive oil. Spaghetti portofino with prawns and said herbs $15.50/$21.50 hits the spot. Pizza, such as prosciutto and rocket $25, has plenty of admirers, as does veal alla botte $27 with its creamy sauce. Check the specials board for something different and, for dessert, tiramisu $10 comes highly recommended.


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