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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Alberto's Lounge, Surry Hills

Bucatini pasta by Dan Pepperell at Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills

Sydney's favourite restaurant, Hubert, has a baby (Italian) brother. Alberto's Lounge takes over the former Berta site, good news for fans of head chef Dan Pepperell's brief Italian stint at 10 William. Expect a compact menu - all in Italian - offering up simple dishes that up the flavour quotient. That includes regional pasta classics like bucatini all'Amatriciana as well as the hearty comfort of Roman-style tripe.

Stocked bar at Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills
New bar backdrop 

The compact restaurant space, tucked halfway along a Surry Hills back alley, has been cleverly overhauled into a moody lounge. Gone is the open view into the kitchen. Now there's a wall of spirits reminiscent of Hubert's.

Cured meats and raw tuna at Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills
Affettati misti cured meat platter $28, crudo di tonno raw tuna $24,
peppers acqua pazza $22

We start with a bowl of patatine housemade potato crisps ($4) before moving onto entrees. The crudo di tonno is the ideal summer dish, plump chunks of chilli and chive marinated raw tuna brightened with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Acqua pazza, or crazy water, is a tomato and basil oil usually served with fish. Here it's ladled over red peppers, grilled until soft and tender, and white anchovies.

We have the most fun exploring the affettti misti cured meat platter, a party plate of finely shaved mortadella and prosciutto di parma garnished with ribbons of pickled daikon and crunchy grissini sticks. The piave vecchio is crumbly like parmigiano reggiano but slightly sweet, an Italian cow's milk cheese that has a distinct nuttiness and crystalline texture. The long twists of spiced and dried pork loin are another revelation, like impossibly elegant pork jerky.

Roman-style tripe at Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills
Trippa alla Romano $22

Roman-style tripe is one of our meal highlights, the curls of honeycomb tripe cooked until meltingly soft. It's not overly rich or heavy with oil either. This is the kind of dish you could happily eat all to yourself with a slab of crusty bread.

Gnocchi with cheese and pepper at Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills
Gnocchi al cacio e pepe $26

The gnocchi is so light on flour it's more like a disc of riced potato than dough. That makes for a feather-light carrier of the silky pecorino sauce, strewn generously with salt and freshly cracked pepper.

Burrata caprese at Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills
Burrata caprese $22

Burrata caprese arrives as a plate of white on white dotted with extra virgin olive oil.

Tomato and basil underneath a burrata blanket at Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills
Tomato and basil underneath the burrata caprese

It's not until we peek underneath that we realise there's a huddle of tomato and basil hiding beneath the burrata blanket. The tomato has been deskinned and distilled to a heady intensity of flavour, its umami notes countered by the sweet zing of fresh basil and the creamy milkiness of the burrata cheese.

Paccheri large tube pasta with bolognese at Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills
Paccheri alla Bolognese $26

Paccheri are oversized pasta tubes, here acting as carriages for the meaty rubble of bolognese. It's interesting to note, too, that the sauce is quite removed from the usual tomatoey sweetness we associate with bolognese sauce.

Bucatini with guanciale pork cheek at Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills
Bucatini all'Amatriciana $26

Bucatini is a marvel, the hollow spaghetti tubes tangled up with guanciale cured pork jowl and freshly shaved parmigiano. The guanciale is on the uncomfortable side of fatty and salty on its own, but eaten in just the right ratio with the bucatini, it makes for a tasty mouthful.

Cotoletta crumbed veal at Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills
Cotoletta $36

Cotoletta is the Italian version of the schnitzel. Here they add tapioca flour to the batter for a noticeably golden armour to the thin veal fillet. It's a joy to eat, that satisfying crunch of batter against the juicy resistance of tender veal.

Swordfish with sardines at Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills
Swordfish con sardine $38

And there's much to love about the swordfish with sardines too, a thick wedge of masterfully cooked swordfish draped with sardines, plump raisins and the biggest pine nuts you'll ever see. A liberal amount of lemon zest keeps the sweetness of this dish in check.

Cannoli at Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills
Cannoli $8 each

Dessert? We only have eyes for the cannoli. It's a beauty. The cannoli are piped to order so the pastry shell retains its bubbled crunch. The filling is light but creamy, whipped ricotta cheese garnished with candied citrus peel. Go for the tripe, the burrata caprese and the amazing cannoli.

Entrance to Alberto's Lounge in Surry Hills

Portions are a touch on the small side for the price, but that hasn't stopped the swathe of Sydneysiders packing the place out every night.


Alberto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Alberto's Lounge
17-19 Alberta Street, Sydney

Opening hours
Monday to Thursday 5pm-12am
Friday and Saturday 12pm-12am
Sunday 12pm-10pm


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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 12/30/2018 03:55:00 pm


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