Cellar Door Italian

Hillbilly Cider Shed – Bilpin NSW Restaurant Review

We spent an hour on a Friday afternoon at Hillbilly Cider’s cellar door and restaurant in the Blue Mountains.

They are a local producer of apple ciders, though not a brand I have seen or taken note of in any liquor store. On display on site are these large metal vats, that may or may not be used for the processing or storage of cider.

Also on display are these wooden barrels, which are confirmed to contain the cider poured diretly into glasses for patrons to drink.

We opted for a flight of four 150mL ciders to sample between the two of us. I’ve always been incredibly cautious about driving after having alcohol so my partner kindly agreed to drink less and drive on the way back to Sydney. We had the Hillbilly Scrumpy Cloudy Apple (ABV 6%), Hillbilly Crushed Apple (ABV 4.5%), Hillbilly Sweet Julie Apple (ABV 3.5%) and the Hillbilly Pear (ABV 4.5%) with some parallax error trickery that meant that we received slightly more than 600mL for our $18 investment. While I normally like a drier cider, I found that our sweetest choice, the Hillbilly Pear, was the most easily consumed, while the drier ones – still not bad – were not quite as appealing.

Hillbilly’s wood fired pizza oven is its second claim to fame in the local area, and they really do churn out high quality pizzas in good time.

This Pepperoni Pizza ($23) was rock solid. The base and crust were thin but chewy, cooked perfectly with the avoidance of any charring. The Neapolitan sauce and mixture of fior di latte and mozzarella made for a nice and mild base, and the pepperoni was sprinkled on with expert percision and reasonable generosity. It was all quite good. I don’t know why the pizza is shaped as it is.

The Sweet Julie Apple Calzone ($23), dubbed by one reviewer on Google as “a revelation” was also pretty good. It seems to be Hillbilly’s take on the hot apple pie, a staple among rest stops and little stores within a 5km radius. The filling of sweet caramelised acinnamonised apples was maybe just a little too sweet for my liking, but the pastry just as good as the base of the pepperoni pizza. I was grateful for the whipped cream which helped to temper down the sweetness of the apple filling.

I enjoyed the pizza, and after years of my friend GGL sending our group chat pictures of flights of alcoholic beverages I was finally able to return the favour. Hillbilly Cider Shed is also a great example of COVID-safe dining, with the choice between a huge outdoor dining area with picnic tables, a large gazebo like structure, and a verandah to sit on for those rainy days.

Hillbilly Cider Shed
2230 Bells Line of Rd, Bilpin NSW 2758
(02) 4567 0965

Asian Fusion Café Italian Korean

Firestone – Eastwood NSW Restaurant Review

We were baited to Firestone by the promise of some truly delicious looking Korean-Italian fusion food on their social media accounts. It turns out all that stuff was on an old menu. This is what we found instead.

I will start with the best dish of the day, the Truffle Mushroom Risotto ($21.90). This vegetarian dish was packed full of different types of mushrooms and truffle oil. It was creamy and umami, and even though it was vegetarian I did not miss the meat at all. Additional sliced or grated truffle was on offer for a supplement, however we declined. While it wasn’t exactly what we were looking for, this dish was very good. I can recommend it.

The Chilli Dog ($12) was chilli only in so far as the sauce was chilli. There was no chilli con carne component, which is what you would expect to get if paying $12 for a hot dog named “chilli dog”. A no go.

I was really not a fan of this miso salmon benedict ($18.90). Unlike most miso salmon dishes on the streets of Sydney, this particular miso salmon was raw salmon, thick-cut, marinated in miso and mirin. It had a too-fishy flavour that kind of repulsed me. The rest of the eggs benedict was absolutely fine, but the salmon left a taste in my mouth that I can still recall to this day (about two weeks down the track).

This iced soy taro latte ($7.70) was solid. Not too sweet. Quite refreshing.

Standard teal cup large soy cappuccino. ($5.50) .

A tough sell. Perhaps their Hornsby branch has a more enticing menu.

Firestone Eastwood
62/80 Rowe St, Eastwood NSW 2122
(02) 8387 3624


Sopranos Gourmet Pizza Pasta & Kebab – Rosehill NSW Restaurant Review

Night time meals at work are essentially limited to two options – Jimmy’s Kebab, and Soprano’s Pizza. Seeing as Jimmy’s Kebab is quite bad, Soprano’s Pizza is one of the better choices for a Halal-friendly meal. Their pizzas are generally not bad, even good, but essentially the same as other kebab shop pizza fare. We’ve had pizza from them a few times now, and each time we have been graced by consistent quality, and the odd free bottle of soft drink or garlic bread.

A cactus in the desert.

Soprano’s Gourmet Pizza Pasta & Kebab
2/22-24 Oak St, Rosehill NSW 2142
(02) 9633 1717


Maybe Frank – Randwick NSW Restaurant Review

I don’t know why you follow this blog, but I’m guessing it’s not to look at blurry, low light pictures of pizza atop an increasingly large pile of uneaten pizza crusts. Unfortuantely for you, that’s exactly what you’re about to get in my brief and undetailed review of Maybe Frank’s all you can eat Pizza Wednesday.

Back when I was a small child one of my friends had a birthday party at Pizza Hut. Whilst I was not invited, I understand that it was quite a middling all you can eat affair, and not a cheap one at that – perhaps $30 a head. Maybe Frank provides what I imagine may be a much better experience. For just $20 with the purchase of any drink ($10 negronis and aperol spritzs are on offer all night), diners are able to enjoy a selection of eleven different pizzas to their hearts delight. We went with a crew of 9 (essentially the Randwick ICU contingent with a Kogarah ICU +1), and I definitely recommend going with a larger group to experience all that Maybe Frank has to offer.

Mixed salad. Not much to say, but look at that artichoke.

Tartufo (White base, mozzarella, porcini mushrooms, truffle oil, grana). A nice, truffly pizza that was widely enjoyed.

Diavola (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, hot salami, olive). Pretty good, one of the best pizzas of the night, in fact, but not the best I’ve had. I actually recommended to my Eastern Suburbs colleague sitting next to me to try out Da Mario‘s.

Margherita (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, basil). Pretty standard.

Don’t know what this is.

Norma (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, eggplant, ricotta, basil). Really quite good. Loved the ricotta.

Napoletana (Tomato sauce, mozzarella, capers, anchovies, olives, oregano). As you may be aware, I’m still trying to train my palate to like anchovies. This was ok, owing to the fact that it was quite light on anchovies (and therefore saltiness).

Patate (White base, potatoes, italian sausage, rosemary). They asked if we had any more pizzas we wanted to order, and everyone said no except for my girlfriend, who said yes. She’s rarely ever said no to potato. Not bad.

The Nutella Slider was more of a donut ball with Nutella atop it. One of my colleagues had two, then cleaned off the Nutella on the plate. I was too destroyed by the seven slices of pizza before this to really enjoy it.

$30 for a cocktail and unlimited pretty gourmet woodfied pizzas with nice thin crusts. Great value.


Maybe Frank Randwick
69 Perouse Rd, Randwick NSW 2031
(02) 9398 8061


Maranello’s – Maroubra NSW Pizza Review

Back in mid 2018 my partner went for dinner with her friends from work to Maranello’s in Concord. I wasn’t invited along, but boy was I invited to listen to her talk about how good it was. I’ve recently been craving a bit of pizza, so took the opportunity to order from Maranello’s Maroubra branch. It was disappointing to say the least.

For starters, the pizza dough at Maranello’s Maroubra is not the classic kind of dough that you get at wood-fired pizza restaurants. Rather than being light and stretchy or thin and crispy, Maranello’s pizza base and crust is hard, dry, and agricultural. Eating the crust was not unlike eating a piece of high fibre wholemeal toast. In addition to this the dough had a slight bitter taste, and was overall just not appropriate for use in pizza.

The Mamma’s ($24.90) with bocconini, tomato and basil would’ve been good were it not for the base. The flavours were fresh, especially with the inclusion of thick slices of fresh tomato. If I could transplant the toppings on this pizza to a base made by any other wood fired pizza restaurant then this would’ve been a winner.

The Meat Lover’s Pizza ($23.90) was a disappointment of ham, cabanoosi, pepperoni, and beef in a barbecue sauce atop a very bad base. The toppings could’ve been good on their own (though not at all gourmet), but the bitterness from the pizza base really ruined it for me.


After the hype-up from my partner, Maranello’s in Maroubra was quite disappointing. A review of their Concord branch’s website shows that their pizza has the right kind of dough. So why can’t their Maroubra mothership do the same? Expensive and not good.

One lone star. Get da mario’s instead.

Maranello’s Maroubra
Pacific Square Shopping Centre, 51/737 Anzac Parade, Maroubra NSW 2035
(02) 8347 0733