EDIT Feb 09: Osteria dei Poeti has now closed.
Osteria dei Poeti translates as "tavern of the poets", a name which seems highly appropriate as we settle at our table, admiring its cosy intimate atmosphere, poetry strewn walls, and sense of hidden secrecy on this stretch of Glebe Point Road.
The framed poems on the walls are an electic mix, including one from Chilean Pablo Neruda who simply says "Fleas interest me so much."
We had come to Osteria dei Poeti because I was intrigued by the allure of Ancient Roman dishes within a menu of provincial Italian fare. The menu is indeed extensive, and for me, the painstaking menu deliberator, five pages of options do not make my decision any easier.
Sardine in saor $12.90
A Venetian style torta of roast sardines layered with onions,
dried fruit and pinenuts soaked in a sweet vinegar sauce
and served with rocket
The sardine in saor reminds me somewhat of bastilla, a sweetened pigeon and almond dish I once tried in Morocco. The sardines are quite mild in flavour--even the vinegar is barely discernable--but it contrasts well with the flavours and textures of the paper-thin pastry, sweet softened onions, juicy plump sultanas and highlights of pinenut.
Fresh tomato bruschetta $7.50
with garlic and tomato, onion, olive and basil sauce
Tomato bruschetta is simple but tasty. Chunks of sweet tomato are the perfect robe for thick crunchy slabs of heavy toast.
Eyptirium (Ancient Roman dish) $13.50
Ancient roman dish of herbed ricotta with green olive,
cumin, coriander and fennel pesto with fennel,
broad bean, witlof and garlic crostino
I end up choosing the Eyptirium, a fingerfood-like dish which grows on me as I eat it. The olive tapenade seems quite salty at first, but this is soon muted with a soothing dollop of ricotta and occasional palate cleansers of witlof.
Cannelloni alta trevigiana $18.90
Handmade rolled egg pasta stuffed with grilled radicchio,
walnuts, garlic and ricotta topped with grilled
Spaghetti al gamberi, funghi e pesto rucola $16.50 ($18.50 for large)
Spaghetti with prawns, mushrooms, baby tomatoes,
chillies, garlic and rocket pesto
Pappardelle con coniglio, catagne e funghi $19.50
Wide egg pappardelle pasta with rabbit, chestnuts,
forest mushrooms and red wine sauce
We sample three pastas. The cannelloni is light in texture with large chunks of walnut. Spaghetti with prawns is somewhat bland in flavour, although the prawns on top are fresh. I have the pappardelle with rabbit, its combination of earthy flavours irresistible.
The shreds of rabbit are a little chewy, with tricky bone remnants slowing down consumption, but the chestnut morsels are a highlight, although they are scant and far between. The pasta is very good, thick slippery ribbons with the perfect level of bite.
Haedum sive agnum particum $24.50
An Ancient Roman dish of boned lamb cooked in prune,
anchovy, basil, tarragon and onion with herbed barley risotto
The lamb and prune dish is much loved by its recipient. The lamb is tender, enhanced in flavour by prunes and anchovies. It's not overly sweet, and the barley risotto adds a pleasing squeakiness.
Cannoli siciliani con gelato di cioccalato $10.50
Traditional ricotta and chocolate stuffed cannoli
served with handmade rich chocolate ice cream
We finish with ricotta and chocolate cannoli, a deceptively rich dish in spite of the ricotta.
There are plenty of other dishes I would have loved to try: Seppia alla yeneta (cuttlefish cooked in its black ink), melanzane positano (fried eggplant slices stuffed with basil, olives and mozzarella) and sformato di zucca con salsa gorgonzola (pumpkin and ricotta pudding with gorgonzola sauce), to name but a few.
I am also enamoured with the rustic placemats, covered in food quotes for all of us to live by:
Laughter is best where food is best – Irish proverb
"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well" – Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Osteria dei Poeti (CLOSED)
Tel: +61 (02) 9571 8955
Open Monday to Saturday 6pm-10pm
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6/10/2006 05:46:00 pm