Danny Russo kicked serious (but lofty) goals at The Beresford; here at The Italian Kitchen & Bar in the Easts Leagues Club, you can eat food of the same quality at a better price. Note the palimpsest of the last grand restaurant venture here remains on the white wall...
The room’s a shade monumental, but the tantalising mural of Italian women scoffing spaghetti got me! I either wanted to eat spaghetti or beautiful Italian women.
Since neither were on the menu, I scratched the pasta itch with a seriously good Lasagna of Jerusalem Artichokes, Spinach, Porcini and Chestnuts ($18). This is a half serve, dished up by our fabulous Hungarian waitress before I could snap off a photo. She won me back over by agreeing that a life without Parmigiano-Reggiano: "It's a plain life!"
Fat rolls of Eggplant Involtini ($14) gently tickle your palate with smoked Provola, pine nuts, tomato and currants.
Simple but tender Calamari Fritti ($17) and...
...White Anchovies ($8) seductively balanced by lemon, both aid your perusal of the inexpensive wine list. It favours Italian wines and Australian producers of Italian varietals, but it’s not intimidating with Mario Tomassi and his engaged floor team hovering nearby. Be courageous and trust their recommendations.
The 2007 Farnese Pinot Grigio ($28/bottle) from Ortona was an excellent food wine made seventy kilometres from Mario’s birthplace. His recommended Soft Polenta and Parmesan ($6) slid like Juliet against the dashing Romeo of moist, prosciutto-wrapped Whole Roasted Spatchcock ($27).
An aromatic yet hearty bowl of Snapper Fillet with Fennel, Mussel and Chickpea Broth ($26) showed off Head Chef David Magill’s skill (chickpeas, mussels and fish were each cooked beautifully), but knocked out any chance of Cannoli ($3.50/each). Luckily there's always next time!
The Italian Kitchen & Bar
Easts Leagues Club, 93 Spring Street, Bondi Junction
Ph: (02) 9386 3217