Neighbour to Black by Ezard, Balla is positioned at the new front of the casino facing Pyrmont Bay. It feels quite apt to pass by an iced display of fresh seafood in the open kitchen when entering the buzzing and interestingly-spaced dining area.
|Inside Osteria Balla, The Star, Pyrmont|
There are plenty of wines by the glass to please the early week drinker and I had fun scrolling through the red wine styles.
|Sydney rock oysters|
|Slow cooked octopus with potato and Tuscan olive oil|
The circles of sliced octopus tentacles were impossibly tender after their slow cooking treatment and will convert any octopus disliker. The rest of the well-seasoned salad supported and enhanced the octopus experience rather than standing out on its own.
|Veal terrine salad|
|Prosciutto di Pino and Salamino Balla served with Balla grissini|
Balla has an impressive range of salumi, which is entirely appropriate for eating on their own with a drinking partner, including some in-house cured goodies and some from Pino’s Dolce Vita.
The ribbons of Prosciutto di Pino had us in raptures over the flavours, silky texture and balanced fattiness, while the thickly cut Salamino Balla had some great chunky bite to it.
|Strozzapreti with prawns, broccolini and chilli|
This buckwheat version isn’t quite as silky in texture as a normal pasta, but was paired with a dreamy, bisque-like sauce and scattered with chopped prawns and bright green stems of broccolini.
|Wood-grilled whole fish of the day (snapper) with salsa verde and salsa salmoriglio|
One of the fish of the day options (two fishes of the day this evening) was snapper that I’ve so recently learnt to cook and enjoy.
This smallish, whole grilled snapper is well-sized for one, and served simply with lemon and two dishes of classic Italian green herb sauce: salsa verde and salsa salmoriglio. I had trouble differentiating the two, although one had more of a spicier bite than the other.
|wood-grilled whole spatchcock with garlic and chili, grilled radicchio|
|Baked slippery jack mushroom|
|Dessert tasting platter|
I skipped the profiterole with pistachio gelato, though I hear the pastel green-hued gelato within was pretty spectacular. The Amadei chocolate crunch showcased some of the world’s best chocolate in a mousse-y slice form.
|Dessert tasting platter|
There was every temptation to just curl up on the banquette for a nap after the rather huge feast we'd indulged in; one that was completely unlike any Italian dining experience I've had in Sydney or indeed Italy. With its rustic tastes and mod interiors, Balla might just be in a class of its own.