Capriccio Osteria & Bar is a restaurant in transition. After making his mark with cotechino sliders and mortadella cannoli, Chef Bryan Gerlini has made the natural progression to his own restaurant, taking his standout dishes with him.
However with years of family experience in the restaurant game, owners Michele Rispoli and Matteo Galletto (son of Lucio Galletto), haven’t wasted any time in securing a new chef. They’re excited to present Uruguayan Chef Gabriel Valenti, who gained his experience at Maido in Lima, Peru. Maido, currently ranked #13 by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, puts out Peruvian-Japanese fusion, so in coming months, expect to see some Japanese techniques applied to the Italian cooking that this spot has become famous for. If you're scratching your head as to how that might work, Matteo explains both cuisines like to "take the best produce, and do as little to it as possible."
What hasn’t changed about this sunny, Amalfi Coast inspired spot is the opportunity to kick back with an Aperol Spritz ($13) and watch the world go by on their raised alfresco seating. On the quiet end of Norton Street, this is a wonderful place to see in the sunset with loud, fast-moving flocks of Rainbow Lorikeets screeching overhead.
Throw in a plate of Stacciatella ($14) – the creamy heart of burrata cheese - topped with dried porcini and hazelnuts, scooped onto their house-made Rosemary Focaccia ($4) and you’ve got your aperitivo sorted.
As for the wider menu, the new Capriccio team are easing us into the change with some minor menu tweaks. Start with Capesante al Forno ($9/2) – wood-fired scallops served on the shell - with a Parmesan gratin, a tangle of green shallots and lime wedges passed separately.
Insalata di Polipo ($18) pushes on the warm summer vibes with thin slices of octopus topped with black and green olives, charred corn and a shaved iceberg lettuce salad. It’s a visually interesting dish, but came up short in the flavour department.
Risotto ai Asparagi ($25) – asparagus risotto with crisp Parmesan chips – remains as a menu stalwart, but didn’t quite sing for me on the night I dined. I was more taken with a vividly green plate of Malfatti ($19). The colour on this plate of pillowy spinach and ricotta dumplings comes from rocket pesto, which intersects well with a hidden layer of lamb ragù.
The dumplings go down nicely with Capriccio Rosso ($22/500ml carafe) – the house red – an approachable blend of Carignano and Monica grapes from Sardinia. It’s a likeable quaffer, that isn’t too big to extend to a Spatchcock Involtino ($32). You’ll find these juicy spatchcock rounds stuffed with black olives and rosemary, and rolled in layers of crisp pastry, easy to share; with their richness cut by a meandering line of green olive dressing.
Chocolate desserts aren’t generally my preference, though after the Gianduia Semifreddo ($10) I'm starting to suspect that might be because nobody had thought to introduce me to airy chocolate meringue. These crazy-good shards of Milo-like joy are scattered all over a chocolate and hazelnut semifreddo, with the intensity further curbed by a scattering of orange crumb.
Despite straddling two very different cooking ideas, there was enough in this meal to intrigue me. It will be an interesting restaurant to keep an eye on over coming months, to see what this chef is capable of, when he launches his own full menu.
NOTE: You can see an earlier review of this venue back HERE.
Capriccio Osteria & Bar
159 Norton Street, Leichhardt
Ph: (02) 9572 7607