Jamie’s Italian, Sydney

jamie's-italian-sydney

  • Over the years, I’ve eaten at Jamie’s Italian a couple of times and have always left with the impression that it doesn’t really live up to the hype.
  • The menu is a bit of a hit-and-miss, and a particular gripe of mine has been that the pasta dishes aren’t up to scratch considering that it’s supposed to be an Italian restaurant.
  • On my most recent visit, I went for some new dishes, as well as some I had eaten previously and liked.
  • My overall verdict is that Jamie’s Italian makes for a decent meal as long as you know what to order.
  • It’s always rather busy and noisy but the service is okay.
  • Portion sizes are a bit of a letdown (more on this if you keep reading the food breakdown below).

Fried Three Cheese Gnocchi – Delicious crunchy gnocchi with a fiery arrabiata dip

  • I was picturing this like a bowl of popcorn at the cinema except on a smaller scale i.e. a cute little basket with gnocchi instead of popcorn.
  • Oh, I was so wrong.
  • This was served on a long wooden plank that held a total of six small gnocchi pieces that were sitting on little dollops of sauce.
  • Bang for your buck? Nope.
  • Though, they were tantalisingly tasty (sauce wasn’t anything to write home about) so I would probably order them again.

Crispy Arancini – Stuffed risotto rice balls with sweet red chillies, mozzarella, spicy arrabbiata sauce & Parmesan 

  • These were crispy but very lacklustre and forgettable.

Polenta Chips – Crispy fried with rosemary & Parmesan

  • These are a tried and true favourite of mine.
  • The texture was crispy but there was a slight resistance/chewiness that made eating these chips very interesting and fun.
  • There was a hint of parmesan and the rosemary sang a little haphazardly but these are definitely a must-order item for me.

Wild Game Ragu Pipe – Slow-cooked seasonal game, red wine, tomatoes & Parmesan with pipe pasta

  • I did mention that the pasta dishes at Jamie’s Italian have been a point of contention for me in the past.
  • This pasta dish was actually not bad, and the best one I’ve had at Jamie’s Italian thus far.
  • The first forkful I had was too salty but I think that may have just been a case of poor mixing.
  • The game was tender, the dish was aromatic and it had that perfect wintry stew feel to it.
  • The pasta wasn’t soggy/super soft but still slightly overcooked for my liking.
  • Given that we went for the main size version of this, I shudder to think what the entrée size would have been like because it seemed kind of insufficient.

Prosciutto, Pear & Pecorino – Salad of prosciutto, rocket, crisp pear, toasted pine nuts & pecorino with an olive oil & balsamic dressing

  • This is another dish that I’m quite fond of.
  • It was a lovely combination of flavours.
  • The sweetness of the pear added an element of freshness but also mingled really well with the saltiness of the prosciutto.
  • The pine nuts added a bit of crunch, and the rocket wasn’t bitter.
  • Absolutely delightful salad that I’d recommend trying out.

Jamie’s Signature Porchetta – Slow-cooked free-range Australian pork belly filled with herbs, garlic & spices with fennel crackling & a watercress salad

  • The meat was tender, and the crackling was sound.
  • Seasoning could have probably been better.
  • Personally, I would pass on this dish because I’m not the biggest fan of pork belly but my dining companions liked this quite a bit.
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Nonna Maria’s Place, Parramatta

nonna-marias-place-parramatta

  • I had a clear agenda when I set out for Nonna Maria’s Place: homemade sweet potato gnocchi with Napolitana sauce.
  • It appealed to me because of its homemade aspect and the fact that the use of sweet potato made it unusual.
  • Things seemed promising upon entering the restaurant.
  • There was a faux fireplace that heated up the space to a cosy warmth, as well as a strong garlic/tomato/herbs aroma that enveloped my nose.
  • The complimentary bread basket and jug of homemade lemonade were a nice touch, albeit nothing to write home about in terms of the taste.
  • And then – when it was time to order – things went gently downhill.
  • I had intended to eat the gnocchi without any expectations.
  • What I didn’t expect was for it to be unavailable, necessitating me to order fettuccine with Napolitana sauce instead.
  • I’ve often lamented that pasta dishes are usually edible but never mind-blowingly good i.e. places that serve great pasta dishes appear to be elusive unicorns.
  • The way I see it, there are two factors: the pasta and the sauce.
  • Whether the pasta is made from scratch or not doesn’t seem to be nearly as important as it being cooked al dente.
  • Since the pasta is essentially a blank canvas that comes in many different shapes and sizes, it is up to the sauce to impart the flavour.
  • Keeping those two checkpoints in mind, my fettuccine with Napolitana sauce failed to deliver on both counts.
  • The pasta was too soft, and the sauce barely held a shadow of the flavour I would have expected based on the aroma that greeted me upon arrival.
  • I give Nonna Maria’s Place credit for delivering on the atmosphere of a home cooked meal and friendly wait staff.
  • However, I can’t say that the meal was sufficient to make me want to return to Nonna Maria’s Place for gnocchi attempt numero due.