Serving contemporary Italian cuisine and thirst-quenching cocktails in a spectacular, harbourside setting, Hugos Manly sets the standard for casual dining in Sydney. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Hugos Manly is the latest venture by the Hugos Group, which has owned and operated some of Sydney’s most respected venues for more than 20 years.
Originally from Melbourne, David Evans, Daniel Vaughan and David Corsi first ventured into Sydney’s scene in 1994 when they took over Dogs Diner in Bondi. It was quickly transformed into the first iteration of the Sydney empire and given the name Hugo, paying homage to the building’s history and their beloved dog.
These days, the trio’s passion for fabulous food, sophisticated spaces and showcasing Sydney’s iconic landscape is evident as soon as you step foot in one of their venues. Hugos Manly is no exception.
It’s likely that your journey will begin with a 30-minute trip on the Manly Ferry or a 20-minute adventure on the fast ferry. No matter your mode of transport, the ride will be a feast for your eyes as you pass familiar landmarks and soak in the glory that is Sydney’s floating backyard. The scenery only gets better as you reach your destination and disembark onto the wharf. The contemporary verandah, quite literally joined to the ferry’s wharf, celebrates recycled timber and takes advantage of the restaurant’s prime position, allowing as many patrons as possible to dine alfresco.
As Executive Chef, Colm Kennedy is the man responsible for ensuring the Hugos’ experience reaches the expectation of the location. An Irish native, he began his career at The Conrad Hilton in Dublin, before moving to Australia to further his skills at venues like MOS Cafe and Quayside Brasserie. After establishing his own venue, Colm arrived at Hugos, where he has been managing a kitchen team of more than 40 staff since 2012. The staff work to turn out an Italian-leaning menu that heroes Australia’s produce. From the very first bite of the Beef Carpaccio, served with a crumbed egg, artichoke, parmesan and truffle dressing, you’ll be thrown into a culinary journey that combines traditional techniques with a modern approach.
Other starters include the Pan-Seared Scallops with a salsa of compressed apple, celery, pine nuts and currants, as well as the antipasto plate: cured Italian meats, grilled artichoke, roasted peppers, Sicilian olives and gruyere de comte cheese. Once these have been devoured, turn to the mains and pizzas. You might find yourself in a conundrum – will it be the Spaghettini Pasta with Queensland Spanner Crab, chilli, garlic, coriander and eschallots? Or the Fresh Fig Pizza with pancetta, gorgonzola, Roma tomato, basil, rocket and apple balsamic dressing?
No matter what dish you decide to tantalise your taste buds, there’ll be a drink to match. Popular cocktails include the Poison Apple, a combination Hayman’s gin, apple, basil, cucumber, ginger, lemon and soda. Fancy a vino? Sommelier, Federico Dordoni, has curated a fantastic list of wines from all over the world, including France, New Zealand, Italy and of course, Australia.