Since Jamie's Italian opened it's doors a few months ago, the hype has not seemed to die down in the least with the restaurant attracting strings of eager eaters all standing around for their chance to try this place for themselves.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first time there (view blog post here) and have been thinking about heading back when the lines stop being so ridiculous. But after chatting to my friends who tell me the Sydney restaurant still has people queuing up outside after all this time, I decided maybe to just bite the bullet and join the hoards of hopeful diners waiting in anticipation again.
Jeremy and I had a day of annual leave scheduled last week so we headed to the city for lunch in the hopes that we could grab a delicious but well-priced meal. We seemed to be in luck after our choice of going in around 11ish and only line up for about 15 minutes before we're at a table inside and scanning the menu hungrily.
Our first entree that comes out is the Crispy Stuffed Risotto Balls ($9.50). They're perfectly round little arancini mounds that are full of smoked mozzarella and porcini mushroom. There's a liberal topping of freshly grated parmesan cheese and a tomato dipping sauce that has actual chunks of tomatoes in it.
As my fork glides through the crisp outer shell, I note the gooeyness of the inside with glee. There's something utterly wonderful about arancini! And this dish doesn't disappoint, it's fluffy on the inside and there's some strong but tasty flavours used. This was Jeremy's favourite of the two entrees.
I love the crunch of these little 'nacho chips'. They're a modern and funky twist on a classic Mexican dish that's well known throughout the world. I will definitely order these again because they had it all - taste, texture, great ingredients at a great price.
Our entrees are cleaned away within minutes of us completing them and new cutlery laid out before us while we wait for our mains. They come out an appropriate 15 or so minutes later and we're both excited to see if the pastas we try today live up to the standard of our dishes from last time.
Jeremy orders the main sized Wild Rabbit Tagliolini ($23) which is slow-cooked McLeay Valley rabbit ragu with garlic and herbs, marscapone and amalfi lemon. It comes out and looks really impressive, a big swirling pile of pasta which gives off the most amazing aroma.
As he tucks he in tells me the flavours are delicious and the pasta cooked al dente. While he's really enjoying the rabbit meat, he's quick to admit that the Sausage Pappardelle he had last time was more to his liking. He constantly raves about it!
For my dish, I'm torn between the Truffle Risotto and the Spaghetti Vongole. I finally choose the latter since I had the crab risotto last time (which blew my mind). I order the entree size ($15.00) and it comes out as a dish of spaghetti with steamed sweet cockles, garlic, chilli, white wine, parsley, butter and lemon.
It's a swirling heap of al dente spaghetti that has exactly four cockles with it. I'm a bit surprised by the small number of the toppings but given the price tag and the entree size, it doesn't phase me too much. The chilli used in the dish is tasty but has a nice level of heat associated with it. It's the right portion amount since we've had starters and I don't want to be completely stuffed full.
While we could have probably fit in dessert, we decide we're at a happy place in our stomachs and decide to call it a day after we finish our mains. While both of us agreed that the food was delicious, the dishes we chose last time for our main meals were better (in our opinion). But don't make it sound as though the food we enjoyed this time wasn't good - because it definitely was.
I like Jamie's Italian. I know some people say it isn't worth the wait or it's overrated, but I enjoy it. I like the people, the principle and the practice of giving great food at a great price.