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
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
Pearl meat tartare marinated in cumquat juice, served with pomegranate seed aspic and a pink grapefruit and green chilli sorbet
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
Dessert petit fours
Menu and wine list
Head Chef Fabio Pappagallo
Jarno Trulli (Formula One Driver for Lotus) appropriately sitting at table 1
Jarno Trulli with Frank Coletta (MC) and fans
Ms Darlinghurst and Me
Ms Venuti and Ms Darlinghurst about to enjoy their Baci chocolates
Toilet candle and decor
Wet weather brings out the umbrellas
Outside street entrance
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