February 2nd, 2008

Does My Bomb Look Big In This?

Review - Cucina di Lusso (CLOSED)

This review was one of the more interesting restaurants I have dined in lately - mostly because of the type of restaurant it is, and the things they are trying to do. You see Cucina di Lusso is on the intersection of Parramatta Road and Glebe Point Road, but they are also the cellar door restaurant for the di Lusso Estate in Mudgee. That means that in the restaurant they only sell wines from their estate (bar a bubbles from Italy, since their estate doesn't make a sparkling wine); and in the kitchen, they only use wines from their estate. In fact, their estate also provides their olives, olive oil, figs and fig products too.



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

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