Monday, May 28, 2012

Fratelli Paradiso: A classy brother act

I've found myself venturing into the poshness that is Potts Point a fair bit recently, and while I may not feel like I belong at all, the suburb does have a nice village feel to it despite neighbouring Kings Cross.

Fratelli Paradiso is the decade-plus veteran Italian eatery in Potts Point, not be be confused with the numerous Fratelli Fresh and their eateries, Café Sopra. Well known for its all-day Italian offerings, Fratelli Paradiso has garnered scores of local and other fans over the years of their casul, laidback yet sophisticated café/ trattoria offerings.

Blackboard menu at Fratelli Paradiso, Challis Avenue, Potts Point
In the evening, the tables and chairs spilling onto the footpath are the first to fill, while the dark, intimate settings inside get packed throughout the night. The locals and regulars seem to know the drill and the restaurant seems to have little issue at all with its no reservations policy or Italian-only blackboard menu.

Prosecco (front) and bellini (back)
The weather wasn't so cool as to refuse a prosecco or bellini to start as yet; the none-too-sweet Spanol 'Col del Sas' Prosecco di Valdobbiadene from the Veneto region. The peachy bellini was reminiscent of a summer we never had and seemed to also feature vanilla.

There's a large selection of wines by the glass, mostly Italian, but two-and-a-half full A4 pages of wines by the bottle - an impressive selection for a relatively small venue, but with plenty of help available from the waitstaff.

Bread rolls
As we perused the blackboard menu and asked waitstaff for reminders of Italian translations, a basket of bread rolls was brought to the table.

Served in a completely rustic fashion in a banneton basket, the equally rustic bread was wonderfully flavoured and only improved with the extra virgin olive oil at the table.

We settled on three entrées to share as the menu seemed just a little too appealing. I'm not sure what I was expecting when we ordered the calamari, but I don't think I expected some of the most tender squid I've ever had.

Lightly battered and deep fried, the rings of squid (and nice to see tentacles included for a change) were perfectly seasoned atop rocket leaves and a balsamic vinegar dressing - a sublimely perfect example of how calamari should be served.

Crudo di pesce - kingfish
The kingfish crudo looked an absolute treat with its cubes of raw, pink fish, Spanish onion and chilli. However, it seemed to be missing its citrus dressing which in turn, emphasised the fishiness of the kingfish of which I'm particularly sensitive to.

The fresh lemon juice from the wedges we requested helped a little, but a glass of the deliciously medium-bodied La Distesa 'Terre Silvate' Verdicchio helped greatly (described on the wine list as "crunch, pop, apple, white flowers in the desert" - what fun).

Salumi misti - mixed cured meats
I've tried resisting cured meats and have just not succeeded. This salumi plate featured some excellent prosciutto, bresaola, chunky and fat-dotted salami, char-grilled eggplant and soft goat's milk stracchino  cheese which I haven't had since I was in Italy.

Pasta scampi
As soon as the daily pasta dish of spaghetti with scampi was announced from the blackboard, it was an immediate order as one of our mains.

It featured one whole, split, grilled scampi and a pile of spaghetti with a few pieces of scampi without its shell - all sweet, well-cooked and savoured in small bites.

Spaghetti with scampi
The spaghetti was simply tossed with olive oil, garlic, cherry tomatoes, chilli and parsley, and all the better for its simplicity.

With mains, we went with the recommendation and special by the glass of Bricco Maiolica Diano D'Alba which was entertainingly described as "old man new, smoke and wild cherry".

Stinco d'agnello - braised lamb shanks
Feeling like something more rich than pasta, I ordered the lamb shank cooked in tomato with pine nuts and peas; the latter giving the dish a slight Sunday roast feel.

The incredibly thick tomato sauce stuck to the lamb, which would have been cooked for several hours at least given my dinner knife was completely redundant. I'd definitely recommend ordering a vegetable side dish with this meaty main.

Panna cotta
Desserts are kept simple at Fratelli Paradiso, much as the rest of the menu is as well. The panna cotta, served spooned out from a larger dessert, was presented with fresh figs, crumbled pistachios and a honey sauce that added sweetness and brought it all together.

This was probably one of the more delicate yet full-flavoured panna cottas I've tried, despite its unusual presentation.

I couldn't resist that Italian classic, tiramisu. Again served from a larger dessert, this epic hunk of tiramisu was dusted heavily with chocolate powder with plenty of not-too-sweet mascarpone. Although the Savoiardi fingers could have spent a couple more seconds in their coffee bath, the flavours overall were spot on.

Inside Fratelli Paradiso
The buzz in the restaurant was exactly what you'd be looking for on a late weekday night: one could tell that both diners and staff were in a happy equilibrium of food, wine and enjoyment.

Fratelli Paradiso is easily one of those places where you want to return to time and time again, and indeed, become a regular. It looks like there are more Potts Point visits on the cards for me.

Food, booze and shoes dined at Fratelli Paradiso as a guest, with thanks to Maria Farmer Public Relations.

Fratelli Paradiso on Urbanspoon


Vivian - vxdollface said...

looks like a great place to visit with a group of friends :) the calamari sounds delicious!

joey@FoodiePop said...

That lamb shank looks so rich, and I'm always looking for yummy calamari.

tastyfoodsnaps said...

i love scampi.. that spaghetti looks like something id definitely enjoy :)

Happyeverafter Bride said...

I love the Fratelli Fresh chain and their gorgeous home made dishes!

Tina said...

Hi Vivian - It's definitely a great date restaurant too, I think ;) Dark and sultry and delicious!

Hi joey - Yeah, it's surprising how many places get simple calamari wrong... This is definitely a winner.

Hi tastyfoodsnaps - Such a simple yet delicious combination ;)

Hi Happyeverafter Bride - Indeed, although Fratelli Paradiso is not related to that chain. Common misconception though...


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