Manfredi at Bells is one of Gourmet Getaways favourite restaurants on the Central Coast. Stefano Manfredi is the award winning chef behind this acclaimed restaurant. In 2008, along with restaurateur Julie Manfredi Hughes at the helm, the restaurant was awarded its one hat status by The Good Food Guide which it has retained to date.
We’ve been fortunate to experience Manfredi at Bells on a number of occasions, and if you would like to see our previous visit, take a look here.
Our first glimpse of the property was the beautifully landscaped entrance and the winding driveway. When we arrived at the restaurant there was a real chill in the air. Winter was obviously just around the corner.
It was a pleasure to be welcomed into the warm dining room. The restaurant has a Hampton style, coastal beach feel and is both casual and elegant.
It is such a cosy, comfortable dining room. A very romantic setting. Blue and white were prominent in the Manfredi decor. I took a moment to listened to the soothing opera and classical music which provided more relaxed romance to the room.
I noticed the selection of chilled wines and a gorgeous bunch of orchids arranged at the end of the table. The wine glasses were all lined up ready for service, and the restaurant was filling fast.
We were shown to our table and the waiter started us off with Sicilian olives and a homemade Parmesan cheese cracker. This was the perfect appertiser while we viewed the menu.
Ciabatta and sourdough breads were then served with extra virgin Sicilian olive oil for dipping. The crusty bread had been freshly baked and had a soft chewy centre.
For antipasto, we chose the Scallops served on a chickpea purée, bottarga and aromatic herbs. As expected, the plump seared scallops were perfectly cooked, and the bottarga did an excellent role in providing the salty-silky contrasting flavours.
Chef chose our second antipasto plate and surprised us with a dish of baked figs, prosciutto and Gorgonzola. Figs don’t grow in the Philippines so I was more than excited to try this dish. Each fig was wrapped in prosciutto strips and served in a light creamy Gorgonzola sauce. It was probably the best savoury dish I have had while visiting Australia. The figs were baked soft but still held their shape. The prosciutto gave the dish a salty flavour in lovely contrast to the sweet fruit. Taking a bite of all three components was amazing. Bhing didn’t have the chance to ask for a second taste as I polished off all three without blinking.
Our mains arrived, I had ordered the JumJum Duck with red wine, lentils and witlof in balsamico. The duck breast was presented in neat slices over the lentil and greens, whilst the leg held pride of place on the plate. The lentil had a lovely nutty flavour, and little jewels of pomegranate meant there were bursts of fruit flavours through the gamey duck meat. It was interesting to note that Manfredi sources these ducks from local farms on the Wyong River at Ravensdale.
Bhing had selected the Risotto with scallops. This is another dish which has made it onto my “best dish list.” The risotto included a generous serve of sweet plump scallops, oysters, lime, macadamia and pistachio. Such a delicious balance of seafood flavours with a freshness kick added by the lime and dill. Crunchy Macadamia nuts had been used to give the creamy rice dish texture. This dish was an absolute delight.
After all these delicious meals I was starting to get a little full. My eyes started to roam around the dining area, looking for glimpses of the desserts on offer.
For dessert I ordered the Salted Caramel Gelato. It was served with soft chocolate ganache quenelle and caramelised banana. At this moment, Julie came to my mind, I know how much she adores salted caramel! All three components of this dessert were perfect! Salted Caramel gelato, chocolate ganache and banana are the perfect trio, these three should never be separated. What I loved most about this dessert was the soft ganache, it was so smooth and silky.
Regular readers would know that I usually prefer dark chocolate desserts. We had ordered a White Chocolate Mousse as the second dessert because Bhing loves white chocolate. I initially held back but the dessert looked so good I wanted to try a little.
As I took a spoonful of mousse, I was almost euphoric. It was light, sweet, silky and very decadent. The roasted plums did a wonderful job of contributing a light, refreshing fruity contrast to the rich chocolate. The almond crunch and honey gelato was delicious with the chocolate mousse. Four different flavours and textures in a single dessert!
Capping the night off was a shot of Espresso di Manfredi. We had selected the Audacia, which was deep and full-bodied, hence the name. The coffee had an aroma of wood and dark chocolate. It tasted strong, yet refined. The roast is a blend created for the restaurant by chef Stefano Manfredi and master roaster Wayne Archer. It was the perfect way to end an amazing meal.
As we were leaving the restaurant, I noticed the cosy sitting area. Every detail of Manfredi’s is designed to welcome with its well-appointed and well-curated furniture and decor.
The food, ambiance and artful interior make this restaurant the perfect place for a romantic rendezvous. I will never forget my visit.
Gourmet Getaways would like to thank Manfredi at Bells for the opportunity to experience the restaurant. The opinions contained in this review are written without bias and in accordance with Gourmet Getaways’ disclosure policy.
Manfredi at BellsBells at Killcare Boutique Hotel Restaurant and Spa 107 The Scenic Road, Killcare Heights, NSW 2257 T: (02) 4349 7000