Da Maria is a modern Italian restaurant in the Osteria style featuring stunning interiors by Roman architects Lazzarini Pickering, Da Maria highlights the diversity of Italian food, wine, music, fashion, art and friends, with more than a little Capri in the heart of Seminyak.
The Da Maria family, friends and collaborators over many years in Sydney and Bali, always aimed at bringing the Italo Dining concept to Bali.
Carl Pickering of Lazzarini Pickering Architects focused on a design very reminiscent of a 1960’s Amalfi Coast courtyard with a cooling, fresh blue and white palette and bold geometric styling. The design pays homage to legendary Italian designer Giò Ponti, who created the iconic Sorrento hotel il Parco dei Principi in 1960 – the first “Design Hotel” – where he designed everything, including the magnificent graphic tiles. In Da Maria, Pickering wanted to create a cool, fresh space with air conditioning that also felt like a garden. The team at Da Maria wished to bring about a contemporary reinterpretation of classical Italian hospitality and the design team’s brief was to create a restaurant that represented that idea. Inspired by past images, Da Maria looks very third millennium and resembles no other restaurant in the world.
“Da Maria is our portrait of the (Da Maria) family in Bali. ‘Bali Style’ wouldn’t have worked for the ideas that they had for this restaurant. They wanted to serve very simple, fresh uncomplicated Italian food in a tropical setting,” said Carl Pickering. “We needed to create a restaurant that reinforced this idea. The typical 60’s Italian courtyard restaurant seemed a perfect reference. We worked on this concept to create a venue that in the end doesn’t exactly look like a 60’s courtyard restaurant, but a modern interpretation. As in all of our projects, Da Maria has a classical quality to it that won’t date. It already feels like it has always been there, that it was the only logical thing to do on that site. A timeless classic.”
The basis behind the design is unpretentious simplicity with the clean European sensibility offset by typically verdant Balinese greenery of rubber trees, cacti and passionfruit vines spiraling down the walls from the Roman Pantheon-inspired skylights that can be either opened or closed. Three fountains are finished with geometric blue and white tiles and sit beneath locally crafted chandeliers that use simple festoon lighting reminiscent of 60’s Italian courtyard restaurants. Bali is full of these lights so Pickering wanted to devise something different, deciding on a circular chandelier, in the spirit of the beautiful circular chandeliers they created at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar sixteen years ago. The fountain is an Italian and Neapolitan icon but also helps to establish a cool restaurant where the noise of water helps add a refreshing ambiance. There is a very simple fountain in the Santa Chiara cloister in Naples, which came to Pickering mind when designing and with this vision they have recreated the essence of that wonderful part of Italy.
Every element of Da Maria was made in Bali and it was very rewarding for the Da Maria team and Pickering to work with extremely talented local craftspeople, always delivering with a smile. The chairs and tables are an expression of the French fer forgé style with modifications made to prototypes and readily delivered, perfect and on time. Pickering’s presence in Bali before the opening was dedicated to fine tuning with a number of elements being ordered at the last minute and, extraordinarily, ready in a day.
The ceiling of Da Maria is the most incredible design element, with Pickering referring to it as “Bali’s Sistine Chapel”. Since the most visible element of the restaurant is the ceiling, the team decided to take some Gio Ponti inspired motifs and enlarge and manipulate them to create the very graphic ceiling that ties in the skylights, the divisions between the rooms and the long, slanted wall along the side. The super-graphic concept was then applied to the other surfaces: where the diagonal Pontiesque lines meet the walls they become stripes. A second graphic was then introduced that resembles the tiles on the bars and fountains. Every aspect has been painstakingly hand-painted by a group of incredible local artists.
Head Chef Steve Skelly and the Da Maria team have designed a fun and accessible menu that represents a modern approach to simple, classic Italian flavours, with pizza undoubtedly front and centre. With dough fermented for 24 hours and inspired by special Neapolitan artisan techniques, the pizzas are cooked in local, Naples inspired lava stone ovens. Another spectacular offering is the traditional Italian Porchetta (whole local pig) marinated in local herbs and cooked slowly over coals. Lighter offerings include appetisers such as Asparagus with anchovy butter and parmesan; Snapper Crudo with tomato, chilli and marjoram and Octopus with overnight beans, red wine vinegar and parsley.
From the wood-fired grill comes King Prawns with chilli, black olives and mint and the Abruzzian Arrosticini – traditional lamb skewers with lemon and rosemary salt in share plates for 5, 10 or 15 guests. There are a variety of fresh pasta dishes such as Oreccheitte with spanner crab, zucchini flowers and lemon or Gnocchi pesto alla Genovese. To finish, after a series of desserts such as Bomboloni or the Da Maria Tiramisu, is a house specialty of watermelon served over fresh ice with optional Campari, Lime Sherbert or Chilli Salt. For guests wanting to embark on the Da Maria feasting journey, the La Panarda menu is more of a celebration than a meal and offers groups of diners a selection of dishes to share.
“We are offering traditional Italian food, done correctly, in a modern environment without trying to reinvent the wheel,” said Chef Steven Skelly. “It’s accessible, fresh and fun and we really enjoy cooking it. You can come every night, bring the kids, bring a date and you can have a party or you can dine alone. We are catering to every demographic, from 8 to 80 and there is no difference between Monday or Saturday. I like to think my kids will eat here and so will my mother.”
The bar at Da Maria has a very Bar Americano feel and focuses on elegant simplicity with most drinks having the flavour profile of Campari or Aperol, blended with white spirits, local fruit and citrus. Classic Italian favourites such as the Negroni and Spritz are complemented by most of the classics but with an emphasis on the less sweet, aperitif style. Da Maria also makes many of their in-house liqueurs, including their vermouth. The wine list is deliberately contemporary, simple and carefully selected to perfectly suit the style of cuisine.
Music plays a very important role at Da Maria with the playlist at Da Maria being mixed by iconic Sydney DJ and event producer, Kali from Picnic. Live DJ’s will be introduced every night after 10.30pm, with house music for holiday people being the musical direction. There is a European sophistication to the approach and it is reflective of the notion that every day is a Saturday in Bali and that dinner seamlessly morphs into dancing on the tables. The Da Maria website has links to free playlists reflecting what has been happening in the restaurant and these are regularly updated. This first mix to set the tone is here.
For any enquiries please contact us.