Situated on Taree’s main drag, Victoria Street, The Sicilian isn’t so remarkable as to immediately catch your eye. However on walking past the long counter and the wine shelf divider, you’ll find that the restaurant opens out into a surprisingly expansive dining room, with the look of a stately home.
Framed black and white photographs and flowers on the mantle piece, combined with low hanging lights, help to create intimacy, and enhance the room's homely feeling.
Cooing over finally finding credible cocktails in Taree, I’ve just taken my first sip of an Aperol Spritz ($16.90) when our mains land. It’s ridiculously quick, and makes me regret ordering the bottle of La Boheme Act Two Dry Rose ($49.90) that shows up with them.
In fact, it probably took me longer to select the Paella ($34) from their reasonably extensive Mediterranean menu, than it did for them to cook it. Sculling my pre-dinner aperitif, I tackle the large serving of toothsome rice entangled with king prawns, mussels, calamari rings, and chorizo. The seafood is all cooked reasonably well, and is kept central to the dish through the use of a basic tomato sauce that is ever so lightly creamy.
By contrast, the prawns on my dining companion’s classic Australian Reef and Beef ($45.90) have been cooked perfectly. They arrive a shade beyond translucent as part of a creamy sauce adorning a fat, prime cut Diamantina scotch fillet. With Tuscan vegetables, it’s another hearty plate of food that he struggles to finish.
Foolishly we threw in a Prosciutto and Fig Salad ($22.90) but struggled to even make a dent on it. Topped with three roses formed using the thinly sliced dry-cured ham, it’s an oversweet blend of marinated figs, rocket, red onion, feta cheese, carrot and cherry tomatoes in a honey-balsamic dressing.
We’re dining with a Taree local who bemoans that their large serving sizes rule out eating their Garlic Bread ($7.90), which, she explains, is actually quite good. She struggles to finish even half of two crisp fillets of Beer Battered Barramundi ($31.90).
While I enjoy Italian generosity, wasting food isn’t good for the planet or the hip pocket. High menu prices here could easily be tempered by offering up half-serves. This would effectively cut down a hefty bill, and one that smarted all the more because we left behind most of a bottle of wine due to the restaurant's lack of pacing. Next time I'm in the neighbourhood, I'd order a salt-rimmed Margarita ($16.90) and a main, and nothing else.
139 Victoria Street, Taree
Ph: (02) 6557 8689