Note: this post is about the visit I made to Sydney last April – I wrote it a year ago and never got around to finishing it. Until now.
Let’s get this out of the way. I am one of the biggest Jamie Oliver’s fangirls out there. And while I’m well aware that Jamie’s Italian is a chain restaurant that’s not even owned by him, I simply had to eat my words (‘I don’t queue for anything other than toilet’) and waited almost an hour on a Friday night to get into the restaurant.
I landed in Sydney quite late and we didn’t get to the restaurant until about 10pm. Somehow, miraculously, I managed to convince the Auntie Brigade (which comprised my mother and her two besties who were in town from Thailand for a long weekend – yes just for the long weekend. These ladies are crazy.) that we should get a cab to Jamie’s Italian and we may perhaps have to wait up to an hour before we are seated. Luckily, my Mum and her easy-going friends knew how crazy I was about Jamie Oliver and were okay with the wait (honestly, if it were me in their position, I would have cracked it.) I think the fact that they have already been to a Jamie’s Italian in London helped a bit as they had enjoyed their previous visit and knew what to expect.
(Antipasto plank – meat $13.0)
Once we got there, we were told that the wait would be about an hour an a half – biting my tongue, I said yes we’d wait (at this point for those of you know who me would understand how entirely uncharacteristic of me this would be) and so we duly put my name and wandered off (yes me + three aunties) to a bar nearby. Luckily, the bar had Australian Open live on to the keep the aunties amused and about 40 minutes later, they rang and said our table was ready. Hallelujah.
(Complimentary house bread served with fruity olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar)
We were led upstairs to share a tiny cafe table which I knew would present a space problem when all the food arrived. Starving, we decided on a serving of complimentary bread (I do believe you have to ask for it), a serving of meat antipasti plank and crispy calamari to start. My order of Bellini came a little on the warm side but it didn’t bother me so much as the food started arriving.
(Crispy calamari with garlicky mayo $12.00)
The calamari arrived slightly on the not-so-hot side (or was it that I spent too much time fiddling with my aunt’s SLR that I had no freaking idea how to use?) but it had a really good crunch and fastastic flavours with lots of crunchy garlic. The Auntie Brigade couldn’t get enough of them and lamented that I should have ordered two servings.
(Mozarella with herb dressing and shaved root vegetables)
The antipasto plank also arrived and placed on top of two tins of tomatoes (cheap stand, I see, rather awkard to try to not tip the whole thing over.) The cured meats (prociutto, bresaola and other things I couldn’t name) were lovely but I wasn’t blown away. The pickles (olives, caper berry, chilli) however, were fantastic. And so was the mozarrella (the Aunties couldn’t get into them upon finding out it was made from buffalo’s milk, score me).
(Crab and Squid Ink Risotto $15.50 – photo from lunch)
For mains, we decided on a few mains to share. By this time, I had given up on using my aunt’s camera in such low light. We started with mussels linguine, which were beautifully made. The linguine was perfectly cooked and the mussels fresh and sweet. Simple and beautifully done. The lamb spiedini was absolutely massive but well presented. The lamb seemed to lack of the lovely lamb flavour (but I suspect it must be a NSW lamb thing as I ran into exactly the same problem at Momofuku) but the bed of smashed potato with minted yoghurt and chilli dressing ($25.00) was great and I normally am not at all a potato girl. My mum opted for her usual steak – their rib eye ($38.00) was perfectly grilled and mum loved the peppery leafy salad on the side. Our final main was the crab and squid ink risotto was absolutely gorgeous. Salty, creamy, seafoody rice with crunchy garlicky crumbs and fresh crab meat. A little squeeze of lemon really lifted the whole dish.
We also had a couple of side salads to share and they were both very good. Desserts were absolutely fantastic: our choice of creamy panna cotta ($8.50) was indeed creamy and delicious and not too sweet. Our second dessert was the ‘ultimate brownie’ was rich and chocolatey but unfortunately we were very, very full. A fantastic first meal in Sydney.
(The bread counter at Jamie’s Italian)
So good, in fact, that two days later, the Aunties wanted to go there for lunch again (‘Also, you can get better photos at lunch!’ – how can you not love them?). This time though, we decided that we would go there for an early lunch and right on the 11.30am mark, we got there and were promptly seated. No queuing. Hallelujah Number Two.
(Almost empty dining at 11.40am on a Monday)
To my dismay, the Aunties had insisted on ordering some of the same dishes again. It was looking to be a repeat of the Friday night meal until I had to intervene to order one of the daily specials:
(Monkfish with tapenade and radish, fennel and rocket salad at Jamie’s Italian, Sydney)
The monkfish was fresh and lovely but I was slightly disappointed with the overall flavour. The tepanade didn’t compliment the fish. We also ordered the calamari, risotto and the antipasto plank again as the Aunties loved them so much. They were good the second time around. Especially the crispy calamari that was served hot this time.
(Monachelle puttanesca – $12.00)
The puttanesca, on the other hand, was spot on with its lovely dots of capers and crunchy, garlicky breadcrumbs to liven up the pasta.
(Travise and gorgonzola salad – $9.00)
My mum had also ordered the rocket salad again but our waiter made a mistake and put through the travis and gorgonzola salad. She realised her mistake and offered to bring us the correct salad. Frankly, I was quite happy she made this mistake because I never want to order the same dish twice at a restaurant. I was pretty happy with this salad. Mum, on the other hand, had her first taste of blue cheese. Suffice to say, it’s not an experience she cared to repeat.
We finished off with a really good tiramisu – which everyone enjoyed. Mum, who generally doesn’t like strong coffee taste, still thinks it was one of the best tiramisu ever. I was quite pleased with it too. The lemon zest really added the fresh zing to the dish which I loved – it also combat the richness of the tiramisu and made it somehow lighter.
The other dessert – gelato con brioche, brioche ice cream sandwich, wasn’t as good. I found the brioche slightly dry and didn’t really work with the gelato. Overall though, we absolutely adored the food and it was surprisingly good for the amount of money you pay for it. So basically it ticks the good and cheap box. I just wish there wasn’t a long wait for it.
(I clearly didn’t take this photo because that’s me punching my PIN into the EFTPOS machine in the corner)
And then it was time to bid the lovely Sydney good bye and we packed the Auntie Brigade off to the airport and I walked myself around town for a bit and then took myself back to Melbourne, where rain and wind chill greeted me.
I’ll be back soon, Sydney. I love you.
Jamie’s Italian, Sydney [ Website ]
Address: 107 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 02 8240 9000
Hours: Open 7 days, 11.30 AM. – Late