Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Intermezzo, Martin Pl, Sydney

Intermezzo, Martin Pl, Sydney
Wednesday 19 July, 2006

Located inside the opulent setting of the Westin Hotel, Mario Percuoco (son of Armando Percuoco of Buon Ricordo fame) has opened a wonderful Italian restaurant - this place should immediately go on your 'to visit' list. The restaurant spills out into the lobby area of the hotel (above the GPO) and also occupies a closed-in space along from the Anthea Crawford womenswear store. You can't miss it.

We arrived and were invited to choose a table - I selected one by the kitchen. The kitchen is open, so you can watch all the action. This added an element of excitement as we watched all the dishes being collected and salivated over the wonderful meals. It also helped with our menu selections......well, almost.

Our waiter was polite, clearly knew his food and wine and was extremely helpful when asked to recommend between two dishes - what a pleasure to experience this level of service. The menu consists of traditional Neapolitan cuisine with a great wine list of mainly Italian offerings and plenty by the glass. Located just outside the kitchen is an impressive 7.5 metre wine tower that houses all the wine - we wanted to order something so that the waiter would need to 'climb' the tower but we settled on wines by the glass instead.

As we were busy chatting and hadn't even referred to the menu our waiter suggested we have something from the 'to share' menu to start. We settled on the Calamari Fritti alla Neapolitana - crispy calamari rings neapolitan style with lemon & chilli oil. They were light, crispy and delicious! The perfect share item while we deliberated over the other menu offerings.

For entree I settled on the Tortina de Melanzana - thin slices of eggplant stacked with smoked mozzarella, parmigiano, basil and a traditional neapolitan sauce and my dinner buddy selected the Capesante con Asparagi e Gorgonzola - fresh scallops wrapped in pancetta served on asparagus finished with a gorgonzola sauce. Both dishes were beautifully presented, lean and extremely tasty. Bring on the mains!

The mains were harder to select and I gained some assistance from our waiter as I couldn't decide. I ended up ordering (and boy I am pleased I did!) the Strozzapetti al Ragu Neapolitano - thin tube pasta with a traditional meat ragu, fresh peas and finished with ricotta. My dinner buddy selected the Fagotti di Vitello - veal roll filled with bocconcini, basil, baby spinach and eggplant slowly cooked in tomato concasse. Wow! We both devoured our mains and kept commenting on how divine the meals were - the thin tube pasta with meat ragu (which had been slow cooked for 48 hours) just melted in your mouth and the dollop of ricotta was a nice compliment to the pasta and meat combination.

You would not think it humanely possible that we could fit in dessert but after a significant rest period we were tempted. The menu offers a great selection of dessert as opposed to the 4-5 that you usually see on a dessert list. I ordered the chocolate and hazelnut tart and my dinner buddy ordered the rhubarb tart. Again, right on the money - the chocolate was real so not rich in any way and the tart was the perfect size - small and just enough to fill the spot. The rhubarb was served warm and was sufficiently satisfying.

Cost? The share plates are between $8 - $16, the entrees between $16 - $22, the mains vary from $25 - 33 and the desserts are $12.

I'm a fan and will definitely be back.

Intermezzo - 1 Martin Place, Sydney - (02) 9229 7700


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