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Jamie’s Italian Restaurant – it’s Rome meets New York in Sydney!

lemon_meringue_pie

Want a dining experience where the food screams quality and wholesomeness, has just the right balance of authenticity and fusion, is fuss-free on the presentation front, and is positively bursting with flavour and texture? Then Jamie’s Italian in Sydney’s CBD is the place for you.

Emily (from Eat In Dine Out) and I arrive at Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant at 107 Pitt Street in the heart of Sydney at 7:45pm on a Thursday. Lucky we booked. The bar is crowded with people hoping for a chance to wing a seat in the restaurant which opened in late 2011. Despite our 8:15pm booking, we are seated straight away.

The whole place is Rome meets New York – big lights hanging from a two-storey ceiling and train lights protruding from the walls; rows of wine sitting in holes within walls encased in metal mesh; dark interiors and secluded pockets of diners lit by hardworking tea light candles. A narrow avenue of leather seating creates a relaxed vibe, but the boisterous atmosphere of the staff and clientele is electric.

The menu is a kaleidoscopic experience – we don’t look at it for too long and just pick something that catches our eyes.

The entree special is eggplant bruscetta – softly baked slivers of eggplant and buffalo mozzarella on a toasted sourdough finger garnished with fresh chili and mint. A twist on a classic but essentially classic Italian – fresh, unpretentious, and what-you-see-is-what-you-get.

Eggplant bruschetta

Eggplant bruschetta on sourdough

For main we go with the Mortadella and Ricotta Panzerotti (pasta filled with mortedella and chicken, coated in a blue cheese sauce, topped with toasted and spiced walnuts, pistachios and an apple, lemon and parsley salad) and Wild Truffle Risotto (with finely minced black truffles, butter and Parmesan), but the Wild Rabbit Tagliatelle is so tempting – another time perhaps. Emily’s risotto is the perfect Italian experience – it will sweep you off your feet. There are no bells or whistles in its presentation or ingredient list but the black truffle and Parmesan flavours dance on your taste buds. As for the Mortadella and Ricotta Panzerotti, it is ‘Rome-meets-New-York’ – the homemade ravioli is cooked al dente and the blue cheese sauce is a subtle extravagance, while the crunch of the walnuts and pistachios, the crispiness of the green apple, and the crackle of the bacon pieces brings texture, balance, and fun to the plate, and is reminiscent of a classic New York Waldorf Salad.

Mortadella and Ricotta Panzerotti

Mortadella and Ricotta Panzerotti

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

From the dessert menu we make up our minds instantly – the Tutti Frutti Lemon Meringue Pie with limoncello and crunchy pistachio brittle, and the Epic Brownie with amaretto ice cream and caramelised amaretti popcorn.  The Lemon Meringue Pie is anything but ordinary – the pistachio base is delicate, the lemon filling is laced with orange zest, and the meringue is as dense and sweet as marshmallow. Garnished with a simple sprig of mint, this Lemon Meringue Pie is the freshest I’ve tasted. Meanwhile, the flavours and textures of the warm, fudgey Epic Brownie work together like an orchestra – the dense, chewy brownie, the crispy, sweet, caramelised amaretti popcorn and the cut through of the amaretto ice cream… Oh, Em, Gee!

Lemon Meringue Pie

Tutti Frutti Lemon Meringue Pie with limoncello and crunchy pistachio brittle

To drink, there is a reasonably priced cocktail menu (you can’t go past the Classic Peach Bellini), a selection of spirits, wines (we loved the Chianti), dessert wines, and teas and coffees (though we ended with an espresso martini).

Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant in Sydney meets all criteria for anyone who loves to eat out. It’s fresh, it’s flavoursome, it’s vibrant, and it’s wait staff are attentive (and pretty cute too).

The details:

Jamie’s Italian
107 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
(02) 8240 9000
www.jamieoliver.com/italian/australia/home

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