Soffritto, Newtown

It’s been 4 years since I spotted some cute looking guy kayaking towards me, trying to teach me that paddling in a straight line isn’t THAT hard. I still haven’t got it yet. But after countless adventures, numerous camping trips, bazillions of uni exams, temper tantrums on the ski slopes (well, from my part), transitions to becoming fledgling adults and four years that I wish I could joke about and say they were the longest of my life….but which have absolutely flown by like a non-crashing Concorde…here we are. And what better way to celebrate than to head to a beautiful little restaurant, down towards the quiet end of King Street in Newtown, Soffritto.

We opted to go for the three-courser, $55, with around half a dozen options for each course. Shortly after ordering, we were presented with a plate of house made sourdough and olive oil. The bread was much in the style of damper, but had a great crust, and the olive oil was fruity and zesty.

For entrees, DF went for the mushroom and truffle gnocchi. It was quite light and did have a noticeable truffle flavour. The finishing of parmesan went down a treat. Quite a generous serving, as well. I actually really like it when gnocchi is finished off in the pan to give a lightly crisp finish, though even without this, it was a solid dish.

Gnocchi me out

Gnocchi me out

I opted for an oft-reviewed duck tortellini, served with a beautifully nutty burnt butter and crisp sage sauce. There was literally nothing I could fault about this dish (well, maybe only the rush with which the waiter brought the dish, messing it up a little, but that’s just getting nit-picky). It was fantastic. Five plump tortellini, almost bursting with duck, and cooked until perfectly al dente, and finished off with a few crispy sage leaves and a good shaving of parmesan, along with that nutty burnt butter. Could have eaten about four of these.

Lucky ducky

Lucky ducky

Mains up next and DF opted for the crisp skin barramundi, served with baby leeks and almond quinoa. It was a crying shame that DF doesn’t like fish skin, because it looked super crisp and delicious (and socially awkward for me to reach across at a nice restaurant and eat it). He liked the almonds that accompanied the quinoa (though it did look like they could have been slivered or something). The fish was cooked perfectly.

Barra

Barra

I chose the roast fillet of beef wrapped in pancetta with garlic spinach (I think there were supposed to be mushrooms involved, although there was no sign of this) and mash. The beef was cooked perfectly – I like it quite rare, and that it was. Very tender. The spinach was deliciously garlicky. We also ordered some (pretty unnecessary) roast potatoes, which were stellar.

High steaks

High steaks

With tummies rapidly filling, we were surprisingly still looking forward to the desserts, expecting big things. DF went for a creme brulee with pear compote. Solid crackly top; thick and smooth custard and a sweetly tart pear. He complained about the absence of ice cream, as the resident ice cream freak, but apart from that it was gobbled up in a matter of minutes.

Creme of the brulee variety

Creme of the brulee variety

And last but not least, I went for death by chocolate – a warm chocolate fondant with ice cream and berries. There’s really no way you can stuff up a fondant. You essentially just undercook a chocolate cake. I don’t know who came up with it, but they’re a bloody genius. In fact, in hindsight I think this may have been described as a chocolate pudding, in which case, yes it was legitimately undercooked. Either way, I’m going with the theory that it was on purpose. Big blob of ice cream on top – the hot, the cold – and you’re laughing.

Fon-don't make me stop eating this

Fon-don’t make me stop eating this

Overall, a great experience was had by all. The restaurant was absolutely bustling (people were being turned away!), the food was of a high standard and the service was pretty consistent and charming (especially considering the diner to waiter ratio – far in favour of the diners). A nice place to go for a special occasion and I will be back.

Soffritto Newtown
367 King St, Newtown

Food? 9/10. My go-to dish is absolutely the duck tortellini. No complaints about any of the others. Generous servings, good ingredients. More care could have been taken with the dishes during the journey from kitchen to table, but the food itself was overall really very good.
Drinks? Not too bad. A few wines by the glass and a few bottled beers (though I believe you can also bring your own wine).
Atmosphere? I liked it. It’s a fairly small restaurant – perhaps 10 tables – and it was bustling. The decor is quite nice, the waiters dealt with the busy-ness well and it was overall a good night. Entrees came out strikingly fast as well.

 Soffritto on Urbanspoon

Signorelli Gastronomia, Pyrmont

With the end of the work week approaching, a need to rediscover comfort eating nice and close to home and a voice in my ear saying “Itsa me, Mario” (that voice turned out to be my colleague finishing off an Italian meatball sub), I thought “what better way than to eat my way through pizza, pasta and all sorts of tricolore delicacies – all the while washing it down with a fine Chianti?”. The answer was nothing. I grabbed my dining friend, and off we set, a long walk into the sunset, towards Signorelli Gastronomia in Pyrmont – yes, the place that seemingly only serves the whole spit-roasted pig.

Lisa...why would you eat me?

Lisa…why would you eat me?

Having conducted earlier research in the hours of bludging that a Friday afternoon presents, I’d already gotten the salivation out of the way and worked out how to subtly convince said dining friend to order the many dishes I wanted to try – one of the few good tactics I got out of law school.

We started off with a Peroni ($7) and a glass from their really quite decent by-the-glass wine list of the Tedeschi Soave Veneto ($11). I only wish more dining friends enjoyed wine so I could have gone for the bottle – their 13 page wine list has decent varieties from Aus, Italy, France and Spain. We were also brought a basket of warmed crusty bread for dipping into a nice little pot of quality oil on the side – a great way to start.

Food-wise, we shared an entree of the salumi, prosciutto, bresaola, grana padano and parchment bread (a generous serve at $19). The meats were thin shavings of the flavoursome meats. Not as overpowering as some I’ve had, but a nice way to start. Equally, the grana padano was nice, sharp and bitey. As we eventually ran out the accompanying biscuits, we were swiftly presented with another serving of bread from our attentive waiter.

Probably too much for two people - not like that stopped us (me)

Probably too much for two people – not like that stopped us (me)

Having suffered immediate regret at our ambitious ordering of two mains to share, we gallantly pressed on. Our waiters appeared to see our visible fullness and gave us a pleasant amount of time to digest (or, perhaps they were temporarily flustered over the work christmas party that had just arrived, probably from the Google building upstairs or something).

The first of our mains arrived – the Italian sausage, mushroom and olive pizza ($24) – brought swiftly across from the pizza chap, working feverishly away in the corner. Which brings me to my next point: the travesty that is the open kitchen. Sure, it makes an intriguing spectacle of the chef. Sure it breeds hygiene as the result of nosy customers. But what about the chef? What about his privacy to wipe his sweaty brow? To pick up that piece of capsicum that fell on the floor – within the 5 second rule?  To scratch that itchy armpit? A travesty indeed.

Anyway, sweaty brow or not, the pizza was delicious. The crust with that sought-out balance of crispy / chewy with the little black spots and the sparse ingredients. Just the way I like it. That said, at $24, it was just a little bit rich for me.

I'ma Luigi

I’ma Luigi

Just to round out the Italian experience, for research purposes of course, our other main of potato gnocchi with calamari, buffalo mozzarella and zucchini arrived shortly after ($30 for main size). The gnocchi was surprisingly light and springy, which was a pleasant change from the stodgy experience of gnocchis past. The sauce that delicately coated eat morsel of the carb was so incredibly flavourful of seafood. It was delicious and really made the dish. I was somewhat disappointed with the calamari. Although it was well cooked, there just wasn’t a lot of it. Apart from the one curl, there were a few little “off-cuts” circling around the dish, but nothing much else to speak of; a similar thought with the zucchini flower. I thought they could have done more with it, and a blanched zucchini flower floating around just isn’t that overwhelming. The saving grace of that dish really was the flavour of the seafoody broth.

Gnocchi me out!

Gnocchi me out!

Overall, it was actually a really good experience. Our waiter was hilarious and personable. The restaurant, although increasingly busy, did not deplete the good service. My mini-rant about the gnocchi shouldn’t be taken out of context – the dish was absolutely delicious; just a few picky points here and there. The surrounding tables were lively, the atmosphere was this cool, dark, casual Italian kitchen – complete with “providore” section of various sauces, wines and I think a couple of cheese, from memory.

Signorelli GastronomiaGround floor of the Accenture/Google Building
Trouton Place, Pyrmont

Food? 8/10 – nice, decent quality ingredients, although value for money was a bit over the place
Drinks? 9/10 – a good list of (reasonably priced) wines by the glass and even better list of wines by the bottle
Atmosphere? 8/10 – sort of weird placement in that you walk through the foyer of an office block, but once inside, very nice.
Recommend it? Yes for a cool little spot to meet friends or go on a date. Funny, personable waiters, good service, good food and good times.

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