Thursday, November 3, 2011

Risotto night @ Jamie's Italian... freshly landed in Sydney!

Apologies for the prolonged period of “drought” on this blog… As some of you may know, I have been travelling to Taiwan and to parts of Europe. During this time, I had gone through many remarkable and unforgettable food experiences, ranging from the humble street eats in Taipei, the rightfully famous macarons from Laduree in Paris, the most delicious gelato in Rome and of course, the irresistible flaky, crisp, airy soft, buttery croissants for breakkie every single morning during my time in Europe.  

Before my trip to Europe, I learnt that Jamie Oliver is opening one of his buzzy, authentic Italian restaurants right here in Sydney! Jamie is not only famous for his simple and rustic cooking style that brings out the best of seasonal produce, but more significantly for his passion for food and for the inspiring work he does educating people on how to choose, cook and live on a healthy and delicious diet. Just like all the other work he does, the aim of Jamie’s Italian is to make good quality food accessible to anyone.  

So one of the first things on my agenda when I got back to Sydney is to plan a visit. Jamie’s Italian is located conveniently in the city, so planning a visit is not difficult at all. Me and my two dear foodie girl friends decided to head there straight after work. Thanks to Jamie’s fame and to the convenient location, when we got there at 6pm on a Wednesday, we are informed the waiting time for a table of three (at this restaurant that can accommodate 200 diners) is approximately half an hour. We are given a electronic buzzer and told that we could wonder off anywhere within half a kilometre while we waited.  

With the hype, excitement and hunger growing as time passed, the buzzer finally vibrated and we are led to our table, which is, quite possibly the best table in the restaurant. It is like a semi-private booth, with comfy sofa chairs and a view to the open kitchen where all the action happens. There we saw Executive Chef Dave Clarke (previously at one of my favourites in Sydney, the Chophouse) and his team (some of which spent weeks in the UK working hands on across a variety of Jamie’s Italian venues) bringing out great flavoursome dishes that are created by Jamie Oliver.  

The front of Jamie Oliver's first restaurant in Sydney - Jamie's Italian

The junior sous chefs make 100 kilos of pasta a day 
in the busy restaurant's front window
A well-lit, thin and long dining space on the first floor
The vibe in the kitchen reminds us of MasterChef team challenges. Watching them at our table make us feel like we are the secret judges. Despite the restaurant being buzzing busy, our enthusiastic waiter regularly makes eye contact with us as he glides past and checks on how we’re going. 

A fantastic view to the open kitchen from our table

The cutlery is placed on a Jamie’s Italian tea towel,
which can be bought at the restaurant along with other merchandise.

The menu consists of a wide range of down-to-earth dishes 
combining seasonal ingredients sourced both locally and from Italy.  

The range of Italian breads served is nice and tasty and best of all, on the house (i.e. complementary). Baked mushroom may sound fit, but it is actually a guilty pleasure in disguise. These mushrooms had a gutsy flavour; topped with the richness from the smoked buffalo mozzarella and thyme, it is such a satisfying and filling dish! The polenta chips are also great to tuck into. They are served HOT as they should be, and are full of flavour.

Homemade rosemary focaccia Artisan sourdough, ciabatta & tortano, 
crispy carta di musica, served with extra-virgin olive oil & aged balsamic

with rosemary salt & Parmesan

Swiss browns with crispy "music bread" & smoked buffalo mozzarella

Quite a coincidence all three of us felt like risotto tonight. There is something about that visually striking black sauce that always amuses me. So when I saw squid ink risotto on the menu, I knew I had to get it. The risotto had a heightened seafood aroma. The tang is enhanced by the addition of finely chopped chilli and lemon. For me, the brilliance of the dish is in those crunchy herby breadcrumbs, which go so well with the creamy black risotto. The risotto Milanese is packed with saffron flavours. Unfortunately there is not a lot of bone marrow to be found in the dish, which is a little disappointing for us given that is why the dish is ordered. We all agreed the black truffle risotto is a real indulgence. As promised – it is rich and creamy and who could say no to those pieces of black truffle on top. We ordered entrée size risottos and thank God we did, as we strived to save room for desserts.

Black creamy rice with hand-picked spanner crab & crunchy herby breadcrumbs

Creamy saffron & Parmesan risotto 
with herby roasted bone marrow & lemon & parsley gremolata  

Finely shaved black truffle with creamy rice butter & Parmesan

Those who know me know that I rate desserts as the most important course in a meal. Those who are with me on that will be thrilled to meet the great range of scrumptious desserts Jamie's Italian had on offer under $10. Tonight I had the most adorable, wobbly panna cotta. It is served with an ample helping of berry compote, which adds acidity to cut through the richness of the creamy panna cotta. When our waiter informed us of the flavours for their ice cream tonight, it got the girls at "salted caramel". The salted part of the salted caramel is really subtle. The chilli part of the dark chocolate ice cream kicks in with a delay and adds an interesting touch. But all that is on my mind is oh that lovely panna cotta. Jamie's Italian - you know I'll be back for more!

Salted caramel, Hazelnut, Dark chocolate with Chilli 
served with Smashed honeycomb and Butterscotch sauce

Lovely wobbly panna cotta served with a compote of seasonal fruits

One last look at the busy kitchen

Pasta freshly made in the restaurant

L's Verdict:
  • Taste: 8/10 
  • Ambience: 4/5
  • Value: 5/5 (the satisfying meal we had tonight costed us $30 pp, what a steal!)
  • Service: 4/5
  • Creativity and other WOW factors: 3/5  

Overall rating: 24/30

Jamie's Italian

107 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Ph: 02 8240 9000
Mon - Sat 11:30am - Late

Visited November 2011

Friendly advice: Bookings are only taken for groups of 6 or more. Otherwise just head there and be prepared for pre-meal drinks (but don’t you worry, the food, especially that panna cotta, is definitely worth the wait)!

Jamie's Italian on Urbanspoon


  1. I was so very excited for Jamie's Italian to open up in Sydney and it seems as though it lives up to the hype! I'm already making plans to go and i will definitely remember to order entree sized dishes to fit in dessert :P

  2. Hi Gwen, that would be a wise thing to do (saving room for desserts), especially when they are this good!!