No prizes for guessing where we are tonight! After a 45-minute wait in the queue, plus another 90-minute wait after placing our names on the waitlist at the counter, we are finally led to our table at Jamie’s Italian. We also happen to spot some familiar faces during the wait (oh hai!). Big thanks to FFichiban for letting us share his table =D love you long time!
While our table is being readied for us, we watch as one of the chefs stand behind a glass divider making fresh pasta – ricotta-filled ravioli in this case – as a tantalising taste of what is to come. Each raviolo is carefully placed in a wooden box before being dusted with flour and set aside.
We are taken past the bar area, where bellinis and other cocktails are being made by cheerful bar staff, and settle down into our table. There’s a little touch of Jamie everywhere, from the message on the back of the menu, to the branded tea towels that are used as napkins in the restaurants, to the British accents of the waitstaff. We are handed some large A3 sized menus, with the menu divided up into nibbles, antipasti, pasta, mains, sides and desserts. Wanting to try as much as possible, we have a hard time trying to decide what to get, and somehow end up with 6 pastas and risottos to share between the four of us. Bring on the carbs!
We start with some antipasti items, beginning with the crispy squid with ‘really garlicky mayo’. The little pieces of squid are perfect finger food, having a crispy fried exterior without being overly greasy. Even though I’m warned about the really garlicky mayo, it still comes as a bit of a shock as to how much of a garlic punch it really gives! But after the first bite, I can’t help but get a big dollop of the mayo with each piece of squid – it’s that good.
This salad is not on the regular menu but is one of the specials for the day. A tumble of well-dressed rocket leaves with peach slices, buffalo mozzarella and a crown of prosciutto comprises Jamie’s “Sexy Salad” and it sure is pretty sexy and is devoured in no time. A complimentary selection of house-made focaccia, sourdough, ciabatta, tortano (which I presume are the breadsticks) and wafer-thin carta di musica is served with aged balsamic and extra virgin olive oil to tide us over until the mains arrive.
Not that the wait is too long anyway. We make room for the pastas and risottos, having ordered the small size so that we can get a taste of each. Most of the time I don’t order spaghetti bolognese, finding it bland and a bit pedestrian, but I’m sold on the version at Jamie’s Italian after tasting some of Pupu’s. It is rich and flavoursome, with each strand of spaghetti coated with the tomato sauce. The fusilli arrabiata looks relatively harmless but it delivers a surprising amount of chilli in one mouthful. The pasta itself is beautifully made with a nice bite to it, and the sauce is somehow deliciously addictive and makes me keep going back for more (despite the pain!).
Sir D’s second pasta is the mussel linguine, with the linguine reminding me strongly of Chinese handmade noodles. They have the same uneven look but with that fantastic bite that only handmade noodles or pasta can deliver. This is a simple dish of mussels with garlic, chilli, parsely, butter and lemon which is light and refreshing on the palate. My pick from the pastas is the mushroom panzerotti. The mushrooms deliver a deep, earthy flavour to the dish while a herby breadcrumb crust on the top gives the dish a much needed crunchy texture.
FFichiban goes all out with two risottos – a deep, jet black crab and squid ink risotto and a simple but fragrant truffle risotto. The risottos are a bit milder in flavour than the pastas, but that doesn’t mean that they’re any less tasty. With perfectly cooked rice grains, the risottos are creamy but not gluggy, and each of them has quite a subtle and delicate flavour. The truffle risotto is a winner for me, with butter, Parmesan and decadent slices of truffle. Bliss.
It’s nearly 9.30pm by the time we finish our mains and the restaurant has no signs of slowing down. All the tables are full and there are still a few people waiting to be seated. It’s definitely a popular place and we can see why after tasting our selection of pastas and risottos. We’re curious to see what desserts are on offer and though we would have liked to use our favourite line (“one of everything, please”) we had to limit ourselves because of our carbo-loading!
The brioche con gelato looks and sounds delicious on the menu, but it turns out to be my least favourite dessert of the night. The brioche is a bit dense and not as buttery tasting as I would have liked, and the ice cream with dried fruit and rind just isn’t my cup of tea. The tiramisu was better but more bitter than I expect, with a bit of inconsistency with the soaking of the sponge fingers. Some are soggy and some aren’t soaked at all, but I do like the orange mascarpone between the sponge layers.
The sorbets and ice creams are the definite favourites. With a different selection everyday, you never know what you are going to get. Tonight, the three ice cream flavours were chocolate, hazelnut and salted caramel, and there is a choice of 2 toppings from honeycomb, crushed nuts and seeds, seasonal fruits and butterscotch sauce. Naturally, we choose the honeycomb and butterscotch =D Ice cream with butterscotch and honeycomb sounds good, but the sorbets are even better and completely blow us away. The flavours tonight were green apple, blackcurrant and passionfruit. All of them are fantastic, but it’s the green apple sorbet which is absolutely amazing and I think we were all secretly wishing we had ordered 3 scoops of green apple by itself. It was freaking awesome!
Apart from the long wait, everything else from the food to the service was impeccable and the best part about it is that it doesn’t burn a hole in your wallet. I’m already planning a return visit – but this time I’m making sure I bring along at least 5 other people so that we can make a booking!
107 Pitt Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: +61 2 8240 9000
Open Monday to Saturday from 11.30am