The restaurant has three main areas - a lovely dining room at street level, an outdoor marque (where they do a special Italian Easy menu with $16 pizzas and pastas) and a great subterranean function room. The function room has sandstone walls, party lighting, a bar, and walls painted with scenes from the vineyard - it really does feel like a cellar door!
Now we began with a complimentary glass of olives - the olives are served in preference to carbohydrates like bread (which fill you up), though bread is also available should you wish. We also began with a glass of wine - it's important to note that they do not allow BYO - it's their wine or bust. But the wine is excellent and bottle prices are very reasonable (all under $38/bottle) with all wines are available by the glass (most are priced at $8-9). I recommend the Pinot Grigio unhesitatingly!
The menu is divided into three sections - antipasto, entrees and mains. Being a review, of course we consumed all three! In fact we had four antipasto dishes. The first of which was a great illustration that the Chef doesn’t compromise on quality – imported Norwegian salted cod in a dish called Baccala Mantecato ($10).
We also had the Stuffed Zucchini Flowers ($10) which were a nice (but not incredible) version of this dish.
The most challenging dish I tried was the Bagna Cauda Cream on Roast Pepper ($10) - it's basically anchovy paste with garlic and oil. I wont go as far as saying I liked it, but I did find it interesting, and it was a more palatable way to try anchovies which are not usually an ingredient I like.
Our final antipasto dish was a lovely plate of Arancini ($10) served with a house-made aioli - they were really good, and I would order them again without hesitation.
Moving on to the entrees, we began with Risotto ($18/$27) which was flavoured with their di Barbera wine, and we also drank it with the self-same wine. An interesting juxtaposition indeed - I think the last time I got to drink a wine used in the dish in a restaurant was at Sugaroom.
More to my taste was the flavoursome and perfectly cooked Gnocchi ($18/$25) which was cooked with asparagus and a great fresh Genovese sauce.
The dish of the night would probably have to go to the main of Confit Duck ($37) marinated in di Lusso wine, and served with a wonderful sauce of cherries, apricots, beetroot and kumquat.
Spring Lamb ($32) served on cous cous was also a worthy choice but served perhaps a little more rare than how I personally would have ordered the dish (we let the chef serve it the way he wanted to).
If you have room (unlike us) I would suggest that you have a cheese course ($19/4 cheeses, $27/ 6 cheeses). So yay for a little slice of Italy, and a big piece of Mudgee right in the heart of the city. And what a delight to see them using so much of their own produce!
Cucina di Lusso
University Hall, Cnr Glebe Point & Parramatta Roads, Glebe
Ph: (02) 9660 7555