|Inside Jamie's Italian, Pitt Street, Sydney|
|Complimentary bread basket|
I’m not sure it’s possible to not order the pasta, even if everyone starts with a complimentary bread basket with ciabatta and white and rye half slices from Brasserie Bread, rosemary focaccia, a bread stick and a thin, not-quite-as-crunchy-as-it-should-have-been carta di musica thin flatbread.
The mozzarella cheese called to me and arrived as a simply torn ball of buffalo mozzarella with a new take on insalata caprese – same white, red and green colours but substituting non-spicy red chilli slivers for tomato and mint for basil.
The mint combined with lemon zest and olive oil really lifted the flavours of the dish while the chilli added interest to the subtly creamy and salty mozzarella, which could easily get boring being such a big serve.
The thin and still crunchy batter was a highlight, yet it was still outshone by the most garlicky and tangy mayonnaise/aioli I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. It was so good that once the just tender squid was finished, we continued dipping pieces of bread into the aioli.
|Crunchy salad (left), bocconcini (middle) and pecorino with chilli jam (right)|
The cheese is both a bocconcini ball with diced chilli and mint, and a thin slice of pecorino on flat bread with a puddle of chilli jam.
|Cured meats and vegetables|
|Spaghetti bolognaise (entree size)|
I had expected the spaghetti bolognaise to deviate somewhat from the traditional and it was by no means classic to the Australian palate. Featuring house made al dente spaghetti with a pangrattato bread crumb topping and pecorino shavings, the sauce was inexplicably sweet and lacking a little in moisture. I’m sure Jamie Oliver would have fixed that with half a bottle of olive oil “to finish” but we didn’t.
|Crab and squid ink risotto (entrée size)|
|Mushroom panzerotti (main size)|
The brown sauce of mushrooms was again on the sweet side while the filled "half moon" pasta shapes were simply perfect in texture and obviously freshly made. It was somewhat let down by seasoning (or lack thereof) despite grated pecorino on top, while the pangrattato added a fun crunch to every mouthful.
|Bucatini carbonara (main size)|
The hollow tubes of bucatini, or hollow spaghetti, virtually swim in the eggy sauce which is best described as an edible silk. Slinky, smooth, luxurious – this carbonara had it all going on, while the bucatini pasta was much fun to slurp up, elegantly and splash-free, of course.
|Best humble green salad|
A selection of crisp mixed leaves was actually rather rich and creamy, though still appreciated amid the carb-loading and boozing that was happening.
Bread, wine, starters, pasta main and sides were filling - no surprises there - but for once I wasn't going to leave without dessert. Perhaps it goes back to the affordability or that so many of Jamie Oliver's desserts in his books and television shows look extraordinarily tempting.
|Brioche con gelato|
The warmed buns meant the gelato melted quickly and messily, while the bun to gelato ratio swayed heavily towards the former which was a bit much to handle after the numerous courses.
|Dessert special: Eton Mess|
Creme fraiche, pistachios and raspberry jam rounded out the mess which was actually quite light, despite appearances. The worn look of the enamel dish was a cute touch although potentially worrying for some mothers.
|Creamy panna cotta|
The crowd had cleared in the later evening, though the kitchen still seemed to be pumping and having a bit of fun even. Music blared; those that were left were into their food or the pretty impressive fitout; and me - well, all that cheese and fresh pasta meant I just had to smile as I walked past those pasta machines in the window.
P.S. Minor gripe: when paying with a credit card, staff re-print and re-deliver your bill to add on a 0.8% merchant fee. The staff then process your credit card as they stand/squat next to you via mobile EFTPOS terminals and ask and wait as you input a tip amount, which is a little awkward. Would be nice to streamline this process.