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Monday, June 06, 2011

Omerta, Darlinghurst

Omerta means 'union of families' says the Omerta restaurant website, even though Wikipedia maintains it refers to the code of silence used by the Mafia.

A long communal table runs down the middle of the room, lined with bentwood chairs and ready for a family feast. Above the doorway to the kitchen hang bunches of herbs and heavy industrial grade whisk and beater attachments. You could easily picture a smiling Italian nonna plonking down great big bowls of spaghetti here.

Cured sea scallops, green peas, bottarga, celery cress

We'd booked ourselves in after taking advantage of an online discount offer: $59 for a five course degustation valued at $120. A row of intimate tables for two line one wall, but all the discount degustation diners are all allocated to the communal table.

The cured sea scallops are an impressive start to the meal, thin shavings of sweet and succulent scallop dressed with tendrils of baby celery leaves, bright bursts of green peas and the tiniest smattering of bottargo cured fish roe.

Formaggi gnocchi cracked pepper, raddichio

The second course of formaggi gnocchi is simple: pillows of dough smothered in a rich cheese sauce and garnished with shredded peppery raddichio.

By the time the third course arrives, the light at our end of the table is decidedly challenging. It's a shame, as the braised beef shoulder is superb, a lone cube of beef resting on a puddle of smooth polenta with roasted beetroot and cavolo nero. The beef is hearty in flavour, falling apart with the mere nudge of a fork. It's a tiny-sized portion, made even more painful because it tastes so good.

Cremino al cioccolato

Given that the degustation only ran for five courses, we are surprised to discover that the final two courses are desserts. Add a complimentary palate-cleansing sorbet and our meal ends up comprising of more sweets than savouries.

The cremino al ciccolato is served in cute espresso cups, the Italian meringue topping blow-torched so it looks like a mini cappucino. We dig past the meringue to find a base of rich and dense chocolate mousse, perhaps not bitter enough to balance the sweetness of the meringue.

Gorgonzola, pear, Sardinian flat bread

I can understand why the restaurant has chosen to include a cheese course as a conclusion, but we're left wanting more of an insight into the kitchen's offering, particularly when we see the spectacular parade of dishes leaving the pass. I'm more than happy to finish off the gorgonzola from the blue cheese abstainers in our group, but even then I'm still eyeing the rabbit, pork and prune terrine in the kitchen, and the bowl filled with luscious-looking Italian friend potatoes.

My meal highlight is in fact our seating, right next to the kitchen with a behind-the-scenes view of all the action. It's like a Chefs Table without the fee, and it's a marvel to comprehend the amount of food that can be cooked in an area the size of an average bathroom.

There's barely enough space to plate more than one table at a time, and I'm just happy to sit back and watch the show.

Would I head back? Definitely. Watching the a la carte food leave was too much of a tease. 

Don't forget to get your entries in for the $100 gourmet food hamper competition. Entries close tomorrow 9.30pm. Enter now!

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Omertà on Urbanspoon

235 Victoria Street, Darlinghurst Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9360 1011

Opening hours:
Monday to Saturday 5pm-11.30pm
Sunday 3pm-11.30pm
24 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 6/06/2011 01:01:00 am


  • At 6/06/2011 1:20 am, Blogger Sweet Lily said…

    Wow! Cool! Yay!
    I'd love to grab my fork!!

  • At 6/06/2011 1:52 am, Anonymous eatmarvin said…

    Hi Helen! I will definitely try Omerta. Lovely Black and White photos of the kitchen. Your images do justice to all the hard work those guys put in. :)

  • At 6/06/2011 4:41 am, Anonymous Jessi said…

    La legge dell'omertà is, indeed, the mafia's code of silence. Maybe the website chose its interpretation as something a little more positive?! I suppose you could say that the union of (mafiose) families means that the code of silence can be maintained, but it's hardly the same as the all-Italian family bond the restaurant is clearly trying to portray. ;)

    Anyway, Italian geekery (although it is my university major, so it's allowed, right?) aside: this place looks AMAZING. The gnocchi and the cremini di cioccolato look the best to me. :) If Italian potatoes are leaving the kitchen, though, I suggest you back there immediately to try the à la carte menu.

    I follow a couple of other Australian food blogs (The Food Pornographer and chocolatesuze.com, to be precise) and I can't help but feel so jealous of all the eateries Australia has to offer. Everyone says it's because Australia's such a cultural melting pot, but you'd struggle to find such a wide variety of good quality establishments in even the most culturally diverse of British cities. It's just a shame that Sydney and Perth are are a 24hour 'plane ride away, with airfares that are way, way, WAY out of my student price range. Maybe I should convince my boyfriend to do his medicine elective in Australia. ;)

  • At 6/06/2011 7:19 am, Blogger Michelle Chin said…

    I never booked for a chef's table before. :) But i like the action in the kitchen!

  • At 6/06/2011 8:01 am, Anonymous chopinandmysaucepan said…

    The food looks good but I can't help thinking I might leave a little hungry still as I'm not a big fan of desserts :( These deals can be a hit and miss sometimes.

  • At 6/06/2011 8:07 am, Blogger muppy said…

    more sweets then savoury...i wouldn't be complaining!!!

  • At 6/06/2011 8:21 am, Blogger Stephcookie said…

    Ugh isn't it frustrating when the light stops you getting a photo of a good dish? Though the other dishes look delicious, especially those cured sea scallops!

  • At 6/06/2011 8:25 am, Anonymous Lucy said…

    This post could not have come at a better time! I've been looking for places to dine in Darlinghurst for the past week, and Omerta has the advantage of being within 20 metres of Gelato Messina, another of my recent obsessions :D Will definitely be checking this place out soon! Thanks, as always, for the review!

  • At 6/06/2011 9:08 am, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    What a miniscule serving of cheese - makes me sad as a cheese lover... :( I remember seeing that deal, but didn't get it - but a la carte sounds like the way to go anyway.

  • At 6/06/2011 9:26 am, Anonymous Miss Feathers said…

    That's a shame that you didn't get very many savoury courses. I got the voucher offer (the previous one, a little bit pricier) and there were a lot more savoury offerings. I loved the food at Omerta!

  • At 6/06/2011 9:34 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    $59 is fantastic value!

  • At 6/06/2011 9:52 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    i want pillows of dough!

  • At 6/06/2011 11:46 am, Anonymous gastronomous anonymous said…

    Wow $59 is a fantastic value! definitely keen to try this place :)

  • At 6/06/2011 12:21 pm, Anonymous FFichiban said…

    Omggg I love omertà!!! So need to go back for more of their awesomeness!!

  • At 6/06/2011 12:40 pm, Anonymous Dumpling Girl said…

    I would of been lusting after the Italian potatoes too :) I went years ago, and fell in love with their salted cod croquettes and fennel seed bread.

  • At 6/06/2011 1:03 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    With the restaurant probably getting $30 of the $59 you paid, they have to cut costs somehow to be able to feed 2 people for $30 to minimize the (probably guaranteed) loss on the meal. My guess is they've done this through portion size and quantity of the ingredients while trying to not compromise quality (# of savory vs sweet). The restaurant wins in this deal if the diner does in fact go back. If the diner takes advantage of just this offer, it pushes the razor thin margins into the red rather quickly. $59 is a great deal for the diner, but can put a lot of financial pressure on a restaurant if they only see half of that.

  • At 6/06/2011 2:27 pm, Blogger Mel said…

    I wish I'd bought this voucher now...it's the 2nd time I've ummed and ahh'd and then missed out.

  • At 6/06/2011 3:59 pm, Anonymous Nic@diningwithastud said…

    I def need to sit at Chefs table one of these days. The gnocchi looks awesome!

  • At 6/06/2011 6:29 pm, Blogger Maria said…

    Interesting selection of dishes! The portions look tiny, but I guess it's more about the taste and the experience than getting absolutely stuffed ;-)

  • At 6/07/2011 12:25 am, Anonymous sara (Belly Rumbles) said…

    Great value, except I am not a dessert girl, so would of been wrestling you for the cheese :)

  • At 6/07/2011 10:58 am, Anonymous Apple @Polkadotsandchopsticks said…

    I seriously thought that was a coffee before I read that it was actually a dessert! I would have gone for a huge plate of that gnocchi!

  • At 6/07/2011 4:05 pm, Anonymous angie said…

    Aww those gnocchi pillows look awesome! I'd come to try those out. Love watching the kitchen action, just as long as I don't feel like the table's been put there because they ran out of room...

  • At 6/07/2011 7:48 pm, Blogger sugarpuffi said…

    ohh! i got the 6 course from spreets at $69. some of the dishes in the degustation was different. maybe its cause of the season? did u go to gelato messina for more dessert? :D

  • At 6/07/2011 10:30 pm, Anonymous Gabriella - The Stepford Wife said…

    Oh my, the cremino al ciccolato looks so decadent. Just divine. :)


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