Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jamie's Italian

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For my 40th birthday, my partner and I were looking for somewhere new to try for a special, childless (!) lunch on a day we would otherwise be at work. After canvassing various options, we decided to try out Jamie's Italian, near the corner of Pitt and Hunter Streets in Sydney. As usual, I looked at various reviews of the restaurant and found they ran the gamut from bemusement ("waited too long for average food") through to culinary rapture ("best...pasta....ever!"). Knowing we couldn't book, we chose to arrive near the start of lunch service (11:30ish). There was no queue (hurray!). We were shown to our upstairs table by a friendly waiter, left to peruse the menu while taking in the low lighting, graffitied walls and the bustling kitchen below. Then the feasting began in earnest.

To start, we had Vegetable antipasti for 2 ($10 each), fetchingly laid out on a wooden plank atop two large, rustic tins of Italian tomatoes. As seen in the first photo, the spread included bruschetta topped with eggplant capanata; buffalo mozarella with olive oil, chilli and herbs; grilled, marinated and pickled vegies (eggplant, fennel, capsicum, Sicilian green olives, mild chillies & caper berries); Italian coleslaw (shaved root vegetables with chilli, lemon & mint) and pecorino on flatbread with chilli jam. The variety was great and on the whole, it was a tasty introduction to what lay ahead.

When the opportunity to eat stuffed zucchini flowers presents itself, I must act on it. To wit, we shared a special entree (second photo) - Courgette fritti - zucchini flowers stuffed with fresh ricotta, smoked mozarella with a rocket pesto on a bed of roasted tomatoes ($14). For me, this was the dish of the day. Sublime!

For main course, I had to try the fresh pasta. It was gratifying to have a few different vegetarian choices. I ended up settling on the Pumpkin panzerotti - homemade half moons filled with roasted pumpkin, ricotta
& parmesan served with chilli, rosemary butter sauce & crushed amaretti  ($12.50 entree/$19.50 main). It was the crushed ameretti biscuits that drew me in - I love a good savoury/sweet combination. The pasta was well-made and the flavours were good. My partner, feeling he should order the pasta, sheepishly went for the Burger Italiano ($19.50) - Wagga Wagga beef with fontina cheese, salami, soft lettuce, tomato salsa, dill pickles, chilli & fried onions. The look on his face confirmed that he had indeed been transported to Burger Heaven.

The Italian beer was good, too!

Overall, we both really enjoyed our food. It is not a fine-dining establishment, but that was not what we were looking for. It was comforting, familiar food, but at the same time, special. There are also (happily) enough compelling vegetarian options on the menu to make me look forward to going back to Jamie's Italian for more.

Happy birthday to me!

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