Trekking the savannah, wandering the rainforest, splashing with the seals; it can work up quite a hunger. Celebrity Italian chef Giovanni Pilu is aiming to change the perception of typical zoo food, putting his Sardinian twist on the menu at his new venture, Taronga Piazza inspired by Giovanni Pilu.
The Taronga Piazza offers a variety of sandwiches, pastries and desserts; most of which are cooked at the on-site kitchen in the function hall. However don’t expect any two-hatted Pilu at Freshwater fare, this is definitely still a zoo cafe. And because of this, the prices seem a little extravagant. Pork and fennel sausage rolls will set you back $6 a pop and sandwiches, like the lemon-poached chicken, avocado and rocket sandwich are $13.50 and pre-made. But the ingredients are fresh, good quality and combined together nicely. There are a few other plated meals on offer like the popular salt-baked salmon, potatoes and green leaves salad, which is nice and light and freshened up with lashings of olive oil and dill ($13.50). Every day a recipe from Pilu’s 'A Sardianian Cookbook' are on offer. We tried the ciciones pasta, a salty pasta with a pork sausage sauce ($16.50). Hearty and warm, for those chilly winter zoo visits.
Thirst can be quenched by a range of bottled drinks, freshly brewed coffee (small $4, regular $4.50) or if your animal safari has incited something a little stronger, the cafe is also licensed and has a small range of wines and beers.
If the kids need a sweet treat there are your standard range of Street’s ice-creams on offer; or venture down the gourmet path with a range of desserts from the Grumpy Baker. The cannolis ($5.50 each), were light, smooth and crumbly - just like they should be.
The Taronga Piazza is a welcome resting spot to refuel after a big day of walking with the animals. It's situated at the entrance to the zoo (so there's no entry fee) plus you can get 90 minutes free parking. Taking on the Pilu name but not quite his two-hats, this is a cafe accessible to anyone; where you can easily grab a table, sip a coffee, devour some yummy pastries and watch out for the roaming peacocks.