Friday, December 10, 2010

Review : Aperitivo

163 Norton Street
Leichhardt 2040

5pm to Midnight

5pm to 10 pm

Summertime and the living is easy….not so, if you live in Sydney. It was a hot & sticky night as we headed out to Aperitivo.

Aperitivo occupies the former home of Pavarotti on Norton. The space has been suitably ‘spruced’ up & nothing remains of its former incarnation.

The restaurant is deceptively large & has a very modern feel; dark brown tones with the odd splash of colour, courtesy the bright red chairs & the wonderfully decorative wall.

We are told that ‘Aperitivo’ is an authentic Italian tradition similar to tapas in Spain. It is about small sharing plates served with light alcoholic drinks.

To that end the menu is extensive. The wine bar menu showcases the many shared plates on offer; each dish paired with a perfectly matched wine. There is also a pizza menu, with the pizzas cooked Neapolitan style (less than two minutes in a 400° celsius wood fire oven). Finally, there is a menu that contains ‘heavier’ dishes such as pasta, should the mood take you.

We opted for some shared plates, a pizza and a carafe of light, crisp Pinot Grigio.

The first plate to arrive was the Mozzarella di Bufala with a rockmelon & grape jelly. The mozzarella was plump & inviting. There was a slightly thick, almost elastin quality to the outer layer; with gentle prodding however, it released all the smooth, oozy goodness that lay within. The slightly sour taste, that only seems to come with a really good buffalo mozzarella, was very present here, marrying perfectly with the sweet rockmelon jelly. The grape jelly had a more savoury flavour to it & the celery shoots added some nice bite & texture. The cheese was perfectly salted which really elevated the flavours.

Next up was Petto D'Anatra Affumicato, smoked duck breast prosciutto with a taleggio mousse. The two elements here, when eaten alone, are almost too strong in flavour each threatening to overpower the other… however, when eaten together in the one mouthful they balanced each other perfectly. Once again the seasoning was spot on & this was one of the best duck dishes we have ever eaten.

The cheese plate consisted of three cheeses, sliced apple, a truffled honey and some crispbread. We had soft (goats curd), semi-hard (a blue) & hard (pecorino). The cheeses were all fairly mild in flavour, the truffled honey was wonderfully sweet and gave all 3 cheeses a lift.

Our final shared plate was the Kingfish sashimi served with citrus salad, pomegranate dressing and blood orange & vodka sorbet. The kingfish was sliced relatively thickly and was perfect for encasing the citrus salad, enabling you to pop the lot into your mouth. The fish was fresh & very mild in flavour adding more of a textural element. The smattering of pomegranate added a sweet ‘pop’ in the mouth. The sorbet while cool & refreshing did not really speak to the flavours it was said to contain. On the whole though, a very successful dish.

 The Tartufo pizza, cream of ricotta, pancetta, parmesan, rocket & black truffle paste… was hit & miss. The base was thin and perfectly charred, crisp on the outer edge & slightly chewy toward the middle. The top was dominated by the ricotta & the wonderfully salty, incredibly crisp pancetta. While the truffle paste was quite visible, it didn’t translate to the eating and we couldn’t taste it at all.

The dessert menu while very inviting, consists of dishes more suited to the cooler months. Aside from the granita, they tend to be heavier, chocolate based concoctions.

That said, there were doughnuts on the menu and these proved irresistible to Buggles, so along with the doughnuts we ordered the Watermelon & Campari Granita.

 The Italian doughnuts had a slightly denser quality to them which proved perfect for soaking up the molten nutella fondue. Very good, if slightly heavy after all we had eaten.

The Watermelon granita arrived with a shot of Campari.
The watermelon’s sweetness was the perfect foil to the bitter Campari.
This was both refreshing and palate cleansing to what had been quite a rich, but satisfying meal.

Aperitivo is a very welcome addition to the Leichhardt dining strip, lending itself to a variety of dining and drinking options. The service is quick, efficient with a touch of Italian flare. We are sure to return.

Summertime and the living is easy……you know, maybe it is.


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