Since the doors swung open I’ve wanted to go to Jamie’s Italian. But two things were in my way. One of them was a queue out the door that was miles long and secondly was that I am not a patient person and my desire to spend hours in a line was low.
So how to get around this predicament? Wait until they start to take bookings online and get yourself one. So that’s what I did. Back on April 2nd I managed to snag a lunch time booking for Sunday April 28th. And then it was just a matter of waiting for the date to roll around and I was happy with that.
We arrived on Sunday and despite an early booking for 11.45am (and we arrived 15 minutes early) there was already a decent line. I spoke to the helpful girl at the start of the line and asked if we needed to queue up if we had made a booking. She confirmed we didn’t have to wait and I think I literally skipped in with glee at this news.
We were swiftly shown to our table and our friendly waitress Monica outlined the specials to us. I’ll admit that I had perused the menu prior to arriving and had a pretty good idea of what I was going to order before I sat down but I still had an obligatory glance.
On the drinks front we started with a glass of house fizz – Jamie’s Vino Frizzante NV, Multi-Regional, Victoria ($8.50).I was celebrating finally being there!
For our entrée we went with the Meat Plank, which for $13.50 per person was a selection of Cured Meats – San Daniele prosciutto, Wagyu bresaola, finocchio & capocollo, along with Cheeses – Buffalo mozzarella & pecorino with amazing chilli jam, some Pickles – Curly green chillies, green & Gaeta olives & caper berries and finally a Crunchy Salad – Shaved root veg with chilli, lemon & mint.
They offer a selection of complimentary bread so we figured we may as well experience that too and it arrived not long after our plank.
Wooden planks are a creative way to present the lovely products and the two tins of tomatoes that are put on your table to hold the plank up are a nice touch. Everything looked so wonderfully fresh and all the components were explained to us when it was delivered. Each of the cured meats was amazing! Particularly loved the wagyu bresaola!
Buffalo mozzarella is also one of life’s joys. It is creamy, melt in your mouth magic. I’m putting it out there that this luxurious item is one of my favourite foods.
The other cheese was tasty too and well paired with the light cracker and zesty chilly jam.
Mixing up the meat with some of the pickles was also a tasty combination. And finally the crunchy salad was a refreshing way to finish the entrée. Oh Jamie – simple produce done well. Bravo!
Ahead of mains arriving we each ordered a glass of wine, for me the Vino Bianco Della Casa ($7.50) and for GG the Carone Ricasoli Chianti ($11.50). All the pasta is made fresh daily on site and from all accounts they are going through massive volumes. The pace of dishes leaving the kitchen is fairly frenetic but despite it only having been open for a month, it’s quite the well oiled machine and the wait for food is not long.
When it came to mains, I was conscious that I had my eye on dessert and so I ordered an entree sized Wild Rabbit Tagliolini ($12.50/$23.00) – Slow-cooked McLeay Valley rabbit ragù with garlic & herbs, mascarpone & Amalfi lemon. When it arrived I thought I had made an error of judgement and could have tackled the main size. However it turns out the carefully presented knot of tagliolini was actually more than I had initially anticipated and I still felt comfortable on finishing it. And how was it? Well the pasta really was lovely, beautiful ribbons of fresh pasta perfection. And I really liked the rabbit ragu. While it was a fairly light sauce, it was full of flavour and the lemon gave it a nice zesty finish.
Across the table the special had taken GG’s fancy, Porchetta – Free range pork belly, rubbed with Vin Santo and filled with ciabatta, onions, salumi, sultanas and pistachio with balsamic potatoes and red onions ($28.00). The pork belly presented beautifully and from the few bites that GG shared with me the fat had been expertly rendered and still had some crackling crunch to it. There was a lovely sweetness to the meat too from the Vin Santo, which is a style of Italian dessert wine. Given that an empty plate remained in what seemed like short order, it was fair to say that GG had enjoyed his meal.
And we also wanted to try the Famous Polenta Chips ($8.50) – Crispy fried with rosemary & Parmesan. This was mainly because I’d heard good things about this side dish from a few folks. Now I don’t eat a lot of polenta in general and while I can say that these were a nice change from regular spud based chips and the sprinkling of rosemary and parmasen was pleasant, they weren’t quite as wow as I had hoped. On a return visit I wouldn’t rush to order these again.
Now as I had paced myself with a girly sized pasta I knew before we were shown the dessert menu what I wanted. I’ll have that one please – JI Warm Brownie ($9.00) – Chocolate, raspberry & amaretto brownie with vanilla ice cream. We decided we would just share one dessert as GG’s pork was on the larger side and he didn’t fancy tackling a dessert solo. That was ok. I would share :)
When it arrived it looked nice and was a decent size, but the test was in the tasting and with our weapons in hand we dug in. Decadently rich, that’s what this brownie was. It was well paired with the creamy vanilla icecream. It helped to cut through the richness. I loved it. Was there some reluctance to share it with GG after I took my first bite? Maybe there was :) But a few more spoonfuls in and I knew sharing this dessert was the right way to go.
And with the final crumbs of brownie devoured our first visit to Jamie’s Italian came to an end. I’d loved every moment. The fit out is bright and modern with a few contrasting fixtures like the big chandeliers and the graffiti done by local artists on the wall. The combination works and the venue just oozes understated cool.
Yes, it is loud inside, but if you embrace that as part of the atmosphere and are aware of the slight din going in then it’s not a major issue.
There is an abundance of staff, which means that service is always prompt and I have to say that the waitress who looked after us was a gem. Just so friendly and she stopped past on several occasions to make sure all was going well with our meals, uber attentive! And the food. No two ways about it, it is delicious. The army of chefs in the kitchen are dishing up some very impressive and flavour filled Italian cuisine and are doing it with flair. The high quality of the food will no doubt keep the crowds coming, but the price of the meals does add to the appeal. They are just so reasonable compared to other places around town where the quality is nowhere near as high but their prices are double.
I don’t think the lines are going to get shorter any time soon. The novelty of Jamie’s Italian coming to town is not going to fast wear off. So if you are like me and aren’t patient enough to queue for hours for a visit then head to their website and make a booking. Sure it might be a date two months in the future, but having that date locked in and avoiding the line is something to look forward to.
Bellisimo Jamie Oliver!
Can’t wait to go back :)