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AQUAVIVA’s on Stanley: best Portuguese in the village

Tonight I discovered a new summer favourite – Aquaviva’s on Stanley St, East Sydney!

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This gem is a new restaurant that recently opened on bustling Stanley St, one the favourite streets of what is often fondly termed “the village” otherwise geographically known as East Sydney!

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Perfect for a balmy Spring or summer’s night, this new hidden 2 storey terrace houses a delightful bar with plush couches, wooden floors and hidden stairs, vintage old world charm and above all – a rooftop terrace and outdoor courtyard tucked away in the back streets of east Sydney with quiet and ambience.

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Aquaviva means “water of life” and as a family owned restaurant, this small quaint bar cum restaurant is a breath of fresh air. Check out their website to get a sense of the genuine vibe and homely feel of this stylish bar with character. The vibe was cosy and classy, with dim light inside, and a vibrant outdoor space with candles as the light faded into the evening.

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www.aquavivas.com

And now for the food! They themselves claim to “offer an exciting menu of modern Australian cuisine interwoven with elements of colonial Portuguese fare. Most of the dishes are perfect for sharing…” and I can attest to the difference and unique flavours on the menu…often taking favourites and adding a twist in terms of spices and flavours:
· whey braised goat ($16.50)
· fresh tamarind and turmeric marinated king prawns where you are encouraged to eat the shell! ($9)
· tomato caprese salad with three serves of tomato, two of basil and one of housemade cheese on the menu! ($7)

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There were about 5 different types of tomatoes, including tomato foam, tomato salt and a smooth cheese that melted in your mouth somewhere between buffalo mozzarella, chevre and milky mozzarella.

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All the staff were incredibly hospitable and at our request, shared their favourites from the menu openly, honestly and enthusiastically. They even let us try a taste of the housemade Portuguese wine (before my friend chose to take another choice! – each ~$8).

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All dishes were served for sharing in rectangular tablets and the quantities, whilst small, were tasty and refreshing – 3 dishes were enough to feel satisfied, but not so filling that there was no room for dessert!!

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The dessert choices were intriguing – cured watermelon, homemade petit fours and a baked black chocolate mousse with homemade honeycomb and sumo sorbet (which looks like mango sorbet and tastes like marmalade slash cumquat sorbet…incredible…but sumo is apparently a fruit somewhere between an orange and mandarin from Thailand…try this out!)! This was DELICIOUS and an incredibly subtle flavour with bittersweet dark chocolate soft mousse which had a brownie-like consistency…almost like a nicer jaffa cake. To die for!! And all very reasonably priced!

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The whole evening was delightful – a short walk from town, or from a train station like Museum…or from a walk home eastside! I will definitely be back to this place and highly recommend it for a first date and drink, a meal with an old friend to chat to your heart’s content, or a gourmet foodie’s delight to pick out and analyse the flavours!

Mari xoxo

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