I can safely say that Sydney boasts some of the best Italian restaurants in the world, what with the huge and dynamic Italian diaspora that continues to influence Australian food even today. I had read rave reviews about Ristorante Otto and decided to check it out to see what everyone was on about. Let me assure you, and I will say this at the beginning of my review, all the praise heaped on this restaurant is warranted. Read on to know why.
Ristorante Otto pegs itself as a modern Italian eatery, and modern it is in every aspect. Right from the swank décor that combines fine lines and warm lighting, to the contemporary meal-plating style. Otto prides itself on sourcing ONLY the finest produce to ensure an authentic ‘fine dining’ experience. And needless to say, the menu was like a mini-glossary of gorgeous gourmet produce.
The restaurant is owned by the Fink Group, the very same folks who run Quay, said to be one of Sydney’s best fine dining addresses. Otto is located on a beautiful wharf in the Woolloomooloo area, a 5-minute drive from the Sydney Opera House. I chose to work up an appetite before what was promising to be a spectacular meal, so I decided to walk through the stunning Royal Botanic Gardens, which connects the Sydney Opera House and Woolloomooloo. Once I reached, I took a moment to admire the historic Finger Wharf, where the restaurant is located. This historic pier was once used for the deployment of troops during wars and also for export activities. However, today, it has been revamped and restored as a lifestyle quarter of sorts, featuring some of the city’s chicest eateries, all lined up along the water’s edge.
We arrived at the restaurant at 7 and our table was waiting for us. We were lucky to score a lovely table in the open-air section, overlooking the water and a bunch of anchored yachts. There was not an empty seat in the house and the energy was incredible. And oh – might I add – a super high style quotient had me raving even before my meal! It was that perfect time of the evening when the sun was just about to set, the stifling heat had been neutralised by the cool breeze and the colours of the sky were changing.
As we pored over our menus, we opted for an aperitif of prosecco (Italian sparkling wine) and a platter of home cured salami served with hand-rolled grissini (breadsticks).
Our server Rochelle recommended that we order a pair of Sydney Oysters, which was the speciality du jour.
Then came the Angus Beef Carpaccio, with a Truffle Dressing, Aioli, Capers, Parmesan Shavings and Baby Rocket. I am not one who would willingly order beef carpaccio off a menu, but I did not regret my decision. It was so finely cut and delicately flavoured.
What I liked about Otto, something that I don’t see in international restaurants around the world, is the fact that they offered to serve you something as an ‘entrée portion’. So you can order smaller portions and try out more stuff.
Now came the interesting part. For mains, I had a choice between Berkshire pork, duck breast, swordfish, lamb backstrap, fillet of Angus beef or a Queensland Barramundi.
I mentioned to my server that I was not tempted to try Australia’s famous Angus beef but since I came from a largely non-beef eating country, I wasn’t accustomed to chewy, rare or bloody beef. In fact, I wasn’t accustomed to eating beef altogether. I was instantly reassured, the chef was called on and he assured me that he would cook it to perfection, so that a ‘beef amateur’ like myself would enjoy it.
And there it was: my eye fillet of Angus Beef with Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Puree, Mushrooms, Green Asparagus, Fried Capers and Veal Sauce.
At the table, my brother who was dining with me ordered the Queensland Barramundi and here’s what it looked like. To accompany it, there was a portion of fries with the famous Murray River Gourmet Sea Salt.
It was inevitable that we would end the meal on a delightfully sweet note in spite of having eaten so much.
UrbanEye.in vedict: I have eaten at most of Sydney’s famous fine dining establishments and I can safely say that Ristorante Otto catapults itself right to my top 3 list. A fine dining restaurant, as you would expect, never disappoints with its food. But it’s not only about the food. Otto is exemplary in terms of service delivery. Food and beverage service finesse was displayed consistently at EVERY step. My server, Rochelle, was unmatched in her product knowledge (something I always look out for when I am judging the level of service at a restaurant and I give Otto a 5 on 5 for this) and could easily make Europe’s finest maître d’s blush with her hospitality and professionalism.
All in all: a MUST-VISIT on your Sydney gourmet trail!
Check out Ristorante Otto’s website here