22 March 2011

Mezzaluna Ristorante Italiano: Jarno Trulli Welcome Dinner, Potts Point (21 Mar 2011)

123 Victoria Street, Potts Point NSW 2011

Jarno Trulli wines it up

Thanks to Georgia McKay from Horizon Communication for inviting me along to this special dinner event with guest of honor Jarno Trulli, Formula One Driver for Lotus. I hope his jet lag clears up in time for the 2011 Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix happening this week in Melbourne. His passion also extends to a variety of wines which were served throughout the night. I mostly liked the fruity overtones of the Jarno Bianco and the nice bodied Podere Montepulciano with only subtle tannins. Arriving to a glass of Paparazzi Prosecco and canapés of prosciutto stuffed with ricotta, taggiasche olives and leek certainly helped warm the heart from the torrential rain outside flooding the streets.

The restaurant is a lot larger than you’d expect from the comparatively smallish street entrance. Set on two levels with an upstairs bar and a downstairs main dining area. Those lucky enough to sit on the covered terrace were fortunate to take full advantage of the panoramic views of the city skyline once the rain had subsided and the plastic curtains raised. At the kitchen helm Head Chef Fabio Pappagallo was in charge of the six course degustation ($165) with his trusty team of Italian chefs that worked fairly quietly with dedication. The accommodating and hard working service swiftly brought out the Canapé tasting plates as a starter. It was an eclectic mix of nicely presented savoury and sweet items which I think would have been better served by simplifying to one of the savouries as an amuse-bouche and keeping perhaps the sweeter Baby pears [fig?] poached in cognac and blackcurrant with zabaglione cream as a palate cleanser after the main. For me there just seemed to be too much happening on one plate to take in and fully appreciate.

The cold served Entrée con Trebbiano of Pearl meat tartare marinated in cumquat juice was served with pomegranate seed aspic and a pink grapefruit and green chilli sorbet. Quite light and refreshing on the palate although I found the pomegranate seeds the dominant taste which overpowered the very subtle flavour of the pearl meat tartare. It was a more sweet than savoury dish which bordered on dessert for me. I’m actually not even sure what pearl meat is but it had a similar texture to chopped prawn meat. Next was another cold Entrée con Rose of Poached turkey with ginger mayonnaise and limoncello sauce. This was certainly the most challenging dish of the night for me to appreciate. Apart from simply looking like deli cut sliced turkey arranged on a plate I struggled to find a balance in flavours, especially with the limoncello sauce often overpowering the taste buds. I didn’t mind the ginger mayonnaise but perhaps it would have better suited seafood like grilled scallops, fresh salmon or prawns, or even crumbed calamari minus the limoncello or just used very subtly. At this point I felt I was still looking for the Italian cuisine I was expecting to find.

Thankfully a warm dish was served last of Grilled venison noisettes with layered sweet potatoes, leeks and chestnuts. A quality cut of tender meat cooked about medium rare which surprisingly didn’t taste too gamey. The side of sweet potatoes had nice flavours and my only real gripe was the bowl it was served in making it a little awkward to cut — and some extra jus would have been nice. To finish a plate of three flavoursome cheeses were served with accompanying chestnut honey, pâté and nuts, and a yellow peach jam. I liked the creamy smoothness of the taleggio cheese the best. For those staying late a plentiful supply of petit fours arrived including a chocolate mousse which I think probably would have been better presented through the piping bag with a star nozzle. With so many enticing Italian dishes on the normal a la carte menu I unfortunately left the night feeling like I hadn’t really had a chance to fully appreciate the real ‘Italian’ Mezzaluna but as a function and wedding reception space it would be an ideal venue if the food matches its prime location and spectacular outlook.

PROS: City skyline view, Nice décor and lighting, Accommodating and hard working service which seem to enjoy working as a team, Available for functions
CONS: Some of the dishes were a bit of a hit and miss for me, Toilets located upstairs from dining room, Didn’t get to try more traditional Italian dishes including pasta
MUST TRY: Maybe revisiting to try the a la carte menu

The food
Canapés to start at the bar of prosciutto stuffed with ricotta, taggiasche olives and leek

Canapé tasting plate

Baby pears [fig?] poached in cognac and blackcurrant with zabaglione cream

Panna cotta with parmigiano reggiano and fresh green pea jelly

Pineapple and chilli soup with fromage frais foam

Yellow fin tuna with goat's cheese mousse, topped with a cucumber, celery and green apple jelly

Bundle of prosciutto stuffed with ricotta, taggiasche olives and leek


Pearl meat tartare marinated in cumquat juice, served with pomegranate seed aspic and a pink grapefruit and green chilli sorbet

Poached turkey with ginger mayonnaise and limoncello sauce

Vegetarian dish

Grilled venison noisettes served with layered sweet potatoes, leeks and chestnuts

Pecorino cheese with chestnut honey, Taleggio with pâté and nuts, Gorgonzola with yellow peach jam

Chestnut honey, Pâté and nuts, Yellow peach jam

Dessert petit fours

Baci chocolates

Menu and wine list

The drinks

The staff

The guests
Jarno Trulli (Formula One Driver for Lotus) appropriately sitting at table 1

Jarno Trulli and Me

Jarno Trulli with Frank Coletta (MC) and fans

Dinner guests

Ms Venuti and Ms Darlinghurst about to enjoy their Baci chocolates

The decor
Pre drinks in the front bar area

Downstairs to main dining room

Main dining area

Terrace seating

City skyline view taken advantage of once rain stops

Toilet candle and decor

Nice candles

Wet weather brings out the umbrellas

Outside street entrance

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thang @ noodlies said...

Yum, everything looks great! And are the shots from the new camera? They look good!

sugarpuffi said...

wow so much yummy food! looks like u had a great time

joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

Mmmm, grilled venison noisettes! Venison is such a beautiful meat if done right.

john@heneedsfood said...

That venison was an absolute winner! Hold on, those were meant to be baby pears? I swear it was fig

Dolly said...

prosciutto stuffed with ricotta, taggiasche olives and leek

i thought that was raw pork, i was about to shriek hahaa...

the figs loook delicious, i know ken would love to taste them!

Ms Darlinghurst said...

Simon those photos are fantastic! Now I know what you were doing all night! Was a really fun night, great to meet you finally!

I thought the dishes were very hit/miss but I think the Chef is still finding his feet. KISS (keep it simple stupid) I think should apply...more traditional Italian dishes please!

See you on the foodie circuit soon.

xxMs D

Jasmin said...

It looks beautiful there and I think that poached turkey looks pretty spectacular.

Great photos : D

Richard Elliot said...

Next time you get invited t a Formula 1 themed event let me know so I can gat crash!! :-)

Simon Leong said...

hi thang, yep shots from the new camera. a lifesaver in low lights.

hi sugarpuffi, had a very fun time indeed.

hi joey, thankfully they did the venison justice

hi john, definitely figs. i think it was a spelling mistake on the menu.

hi dolly, it does look a bit like raw pork actually but thankfully not.

hi ms darlinghurst, great to meet you too. hopefully the chef will find his way soon. i really wanted to try the traditional Italian dishes.

hi jasmin, unfortunately the poached turkey was my least favourite.

hi richard, i'll keep you in mind next time you car hoon hehe

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