jamie’s italian…

Radisson Hotel, corner of Pitt, Hunter & O’Connell Sts Sydney

See that building in the photo above? The one that looks like a great big rounded triangle? I used to work in there. My desk was in the pointy curvey part, in the window, on the 2nd floor.

I remember when I first started in there. My colleague and I were setting up a new department in the bank we worked for. They were centralising all the securities and collections activities that had been based in the individual regions- and we were part of the new world order.

We had hired 60 staff, but they were all off being trained, so we had 2 weeks to set up- to find stationery and equipment. Two weeks where we were the only people on the floor.

We sourced most of what we needed from the basements way below the building, way down near the tank-stream that still flows through the underbelly of Sydney (albeit now as storm water drains).

Someone told me later that a group of (ex) employees would go down there to smoke things that they shouldn’t have been smoking at work- right below the vent that came out in the Chief Managers office. He always seemed so relaxed. I don’t know if the story was true.

Now it’s a hotel. We stayed in it once, my husband and I. We had a room on the 2nd floor in the pointy curvey bit. It seemed weird.

the entrance and bar

I could see it from where we sat, upstairs at Jamie’s Italian.

I love this place. It seems very Melbourne to me. It feels very Melbourne- sort of edgy, with a slight under feeling of potential chaos and creativity. Perhaps it’s the artfully grafitti’ed walls.

Despite the almost casual slash industrial slash shabby slash loft style slash chic, there’s an attention to detail here that extends even to the chunky belfast sinks and swing handle taps in the bathrooms.

That same attention to detail is extended to the food. It looks simple, it sounds simple, but the flavours are multi-layered.

My friend and I shared an antipasto plank- balanced on 2 tins of Italian tomatoes. At $13.50 a person, this is a great way to start the meal.

Ours had thinly sliced San Daniele prosciutto, wagyu bresaola, finocchio and capocollo. I copied that off the menu. There were also balls of perfect buffalo mozzarella and some bitey pecorino with chilli jam. A mound of grated salad (carrot, beetroot, lemon, mint, chilli and olive oil) propped up the other end of the plank, while olives, capers and some wicked chillis were scattered across the top.

antipasto plank

To follow I had Risotto Milanese ($21)- risotto the way it should be- creamy and saffron gold, with just the right amount of parmesan for complexity. It was served with a herby roasted bone marrow and lemon and parsley gremolata. Every single bite was yummy.

risotto milanese

My friend opted for the pumpkin panzerotti ($19.50). The blurb on the menu reads: Homemade half moons filled with roasted pumpkin, ricotta & Parmesan served with chilli, rosemary butter sauce & crushed amaretti. I dug my fork in and yep, exactly that.

We shared an ice cream bombe ($8.50) to finish. And it was da bomb! Frozen layers of vin santo, candied fruit, ricotta and ice cream encased in a thin layer of panettone and served with a hot fudgey chocolate sauce.

ice cream bombe with sauce on the side
and with sauce over the top…

The verdict? A great experience.

The regular menu is extensive and the daily specials worth considering. I was very tempted by slow cooked beef cheeks on polenta.

This isn’t pretty food- so if you are looking for foams and towers or artfully constructed plates, try one of the hatted restaurants. If you’re into pretension, try somewhere else. If you want real, rustic Italian food made from fresh ingredients, prepared with integrity then eat here.

Service is attentive, yet friendly. As for value for money? The temptation to cash in on the very well known name has been resisted. The menu is well priced and echoes Jamie’s philosophy that good food should be affordable. Expect to pay $19-$26 for a main course pasta or risotto ($10-$16 for entree size). Mains range from $20-$35. Check out the core menu here.

Jamie’s doesn’t take bookings, so be prepared to wait- the bar is pleasant and the wine list relatively small, affordable and with plenty of Italian varietals that are absolutely in keeping with the atmosphere. We were there for Saturday lunch at 12pm and were lucky enough to get a table straight away. I suspect if we were much later, we wouldn’t have.

Oh, and I didn’t steal a napkin…but I was tempted…

looking down into the kitchen




Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

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