Restaurateur Maurice Terzini is preparing to open a modern, osteria-style Italian restaurant, Da Maria, in the heart of Bali’s Seminyak.
The man behind Sydney dining destinations such as Icebergs Dining Room and Bar and Da Orazio Pizza & Porchetta in Bondi Beach as well as The Dolphin Hotel in Surry Hills, Caffe e Cucina and Melbourne Wine Room, Terzini has now turned his eye to establishing successful dining destinations in Asia.
At Da Maria, opening on 5 November, Carl Pickering of Lazarini Pickering Architects worked on a design that is reminiscent of a 1960s Amalfi Coast courtyard with a blue and white palette and geometric styling. The design pays homage to Italian designer Gi Ponti, who created the Sorrento hotel il Parco dei Principi in 1960.
“Da Maria is our portrait of Maurice Terzini in Bali. ‘Bali Style’ wouldn't have worked for the ideas Maurice had for this restaurant. He wanted to serve very simple, fresh uncomplicated Italian food in a tropical setting,” said Pickering. “We needed to create a restaurant that reinforced this idea. The typical 60s Italian courtyard restaurant seemed a perfect reference. We worked on this concept to create a venue that in the end doesn't exactly look like a 60s courtyard restaurant, but a modern interpretation. As in all of our projects, Da Maria has a classical quality to it that won't date. It already feels like it has always been there, that it was the only logical thing to do on that site.”
Terzini and his team have designed a menu that represents a modern approach to simple, classic Italian flavours, with pizza front and centre. With dough fermented for 24 hours and inspired by Neapolitan artisan techniques, the pizzas are cooked in local, Naples inspired lava stone ovens. Another offering is the traditional Italian Porchetta (whole local pig) marinated in local herbs and cooked slowly over coals. Lighter offerings include appetisers such as asparagus with anchovy butter and parmesan; snapper crudo with tomato, chilli and marjoram and octopus with overnight beans, red wine vinegar and parsley. From the wood-fired grill comes king prawns with chilli, black olives and mint and the Abruzzian Arrosticini – traditional lamb skewers with lemon and rosemary salt in share plates for five, 10 or 15 guests.
There are a variety of fresh pasta dishes such as oreccheitte with spanner crab, zucchini flowers and lemon or gnocchi pesto alla genovese. A series of desserts such as bomboloni or the Da Maria tiramisu are on offer, as is a house specialty of watermelon served over fresh ice with optional Campari, lime sherbert or chilli salt.
“We are offering traditional Italian food, done correctly, in a modern environment without trying to reinvent the wheel,” said chef Steven Skelly. “It’s accessible, fresh and fun and we really enjoy cooking it. You can come every night, bring the kids, bring a date and you can have a party or you can dine alone. We are catering to every demographic, from eight to 80 and there is no difference between Monday or Saturday. I like to think my kids will eat here and so will my mother.”
Most drinks at the bar have comprise Campari or Aperol, blended with white spirits, local fruit and citrus. Classic Italian favourites such as the negroni and spritz are on offer, and Da Maria also makes many of its liqueurs in-house, including its vermouth.