Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ventuno, Hickson Rd, Millers Point

Ventuno, Hickson Rd, Millers Point
Wednesday 1 August, 2007

Ventuno means '21' in Italian so it's not surprising to learn that the location is 21 Hickson Road. Located just beyond the Sydney Dance Company, Wharf Theatre and Sydney Theatre, Ventuno sits on Pier 7/8 just opposite one of my favourite places - Firefly.

The space is very industrial with exposed walls, beams and wooden floorboards throughout. There's also an historic piece of machinery in the front entrance that is intriguing. We never actually worked out what it was but enjoyed coming up with possible solutions.

In a recent review, owner Lido Russo said "he wanted to recreate the welcoming warmth of the pizzerias and birrerias of Rome, his home town." I'm afraid to say, having been to Italy, that it doesn't achieve this. That said, there is a definite buzz about the place. For a Wednesday night it was pumping - the outdoor dining area was full and inside there was a huge communal table and about 12 or so tables - all full.

The fare is Italian and the menu largely made up of antipasto, pasta and pizzas. We decided to start with a garlic pizza and it was delicious - a large thin pizza coated in fresh crushed garlic. Luckily we all ate it as it was incredibly strong! We followed this with a variety of antipasto dishes:

- Calamari (crispy outer and served in coils)
- Crumbed veal (a little undercooked)
- Marinated octopus (served in a thick, red wine sauce that was far too heavy)

For mains we ordered:

- Crumbed veal (not bad this time)
- Osso Bucco paparadelle (an Italian dish that means bone with a hole in it - the pasta is large fettuccine)
- Orecchiette with bolognaise sauce (a Southern Italian dish with a thick meaty sauce)

The mains were actually very good and we started to feel very full. Although we didn't need it we all ordered dessert - 2 x Tiramisu and 1 x Pannacotta. This is where Ventuno excelled. The desserts were truly fabulous and if I had known how good I would have skipped entree and main and gone straight to dessert! The tiramisu was enormous and served in a large glass. The flavours of espresso coffee & mascarpone came out in spades. Just delicious.

The staff were well meaning if a little green - our waitress was friendly but lacked the polish of a seasoned professional and she deferred any questions we had to the management. Overall, I feel indifferent. The strip along Hickson Road is crying out for some great food options due to the amount of businesses and theatres in the vicinity. If Ventuno can improve their service and enhance their meals it could be a solid offering.

Ventuna - 21 Hickson Rd, Millers Point - (02) 9247 4444


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