As you wander along a sleepy tree-lined street in Sydney’s north, keep your eyes peeled for the large brass saw; it signals the entrance to a neighbourhood gem. Inside, you’ll be tempted by the mouth-watering cafe fare, delicious wood fired pizzas and delectable Italian desserts.
Established in April 2016 by Italian couple Domenico and Susan Murdocca, The Sawmill has cemented itself as a local favourite. The emphasis on simple Italian flavours, fresh produce and careful preparation has seen The Sawmill gain a loyal following in its comparably short lifespan.
Built on the site of an old timber mill, The Sawmill takes inspiration from Pymble’s history as a major timber supplier and pays homage to this heritage. The venue name is, of course, inspired by the site’s history but a more subtle reference is the fact that local, recycled and natural timbers are used throughout.
These rustic tones carry through to the kitchen, where chefs Ruben Castellaz (Ombretto and Fratelli Fresh) and Sanjeet Senchury oversee a menu of Italian- inspired dishes. Originally from Nepal, Sanjeet brings a particular specialty with Italian and French cooking styles to his breakfast and lunch creations at The Sawmill.
As the sun goes down, Ruben takes the reins in the kitchen, continuing to ensure only the freshest ingredients appear on your plate. All the fruit, vegetables and seafood come directly from the Sydney Market, while meat is sourced from a local butcher specialising in Italian cuts.
The quality of these ingredients shine through in Sanjeet’s breakfast and lunch dishes and Ruben’s dinner creations. For breakfast, order a halloumi stack with grilled vegetables, pesto and pine nuts; or sample the rogan mushrooms – a dish of mushrooms sauteed in fresh herbs and spices, served with pumpkin, avocado, raita and pomegranate.
For something a little sweeter, The Sawmill’s pancakes with apple and blueberry compote, maple syrup and salted caramel gelato are also an excellent way to kick-start the day.
The lunch menu follows a similar style. If you visit with friends or family, order the lunch platter for two – a board topped with fried calamari, chorizo, grilled chicken, halloumi, olives, mini sliders, truffle chive chips and salad. Alternatively, stop by in the evening and enjoy a pizza or calzone, baked to perfection in the wood-fired pizza oven.
Whatever you do, make sure you leave room for one of the hand-crafted Italian desserts. Made by a creative pastry team, options like sweet zippoli (Italian doughnuts) with Nutella; and chocolate and pistachio semifreddo with candied orange and vanilla anglaise make for a tantalising treat after your meal.
Pair your dessert with a cup of The Sawmill’s unique coffee blend, or opt for a glass of wine, beer or cider from the comprehensive drinks list. All of The Sawmill’s offerings can be enjoyed either inside the airy and spacious venue or outside under the trees.
Casual cafe by day, rustic Italian restaurant by night, The Sawmill truly is a cut above the rest. Unlike anything else in the area, it oozes Italian charm and offers a meal for any occasion at any time of day.