Madelin Tomelty

An evening at this cosy restaurant in Bowral might just be the answer to those winter cravings for an honest, wholesome and delicious meal

The kitchen isn’t the most likely of places to fall in love. And yet for the owners of NSW Southern Highlands restaurant Bistro Officina, their love story – both with each other and their work – was always going to begin in a restaurant. “We met while working together at Otto in Woolloomooloo,” says Alexandra Coccia. “Where else would a boy from Naples find a girl from Lyon?”

Her husband is chef Nicola Coccia, the flavour creator behind the newest, most delicious addition to the NSW Southern highlands culinary scene. While ‘Nico’, as his friends and family call him, creates delectable meals in the kitchen, Alexandra owns the role of restaurant manager, ducking in and out of tables, chatting with guests and running front of house like it’s what she was born to do.

The pair clearly make a brilliant team, because the restaurant is as much of a pleasure to dine at for its comforting design as it is for Nico’s passion-fuelled, mouth-watering food.

The Bistro Officina experience is definitely something to write home about … all the way to France and Italy, if necessary, but you’ll only have to venture as far as the upscale country town of Bowral to locate this tasty gem.

Tucked away on the ground floor of the old Berida Manor, the space takes its rustic style just far enough that it feels clean and modern, while its two-tone wood, leather and lodge-like decor add that cosy ambience that weekenders from Canberra and Sydney flock to the region for.

The bar area’s blazing fireplace and leather armchairs are almost too comfortable, and it would be easy to forget you had a dinner reservation at all sitting there with a glass of local wine and good book in hand. But if you missed the Bistro Officina Experience – the restaurant’s signature eight-course tasting menu – you’d be missing what is likely the best meal on offer in this highly regarded foodie region.

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