Number three Jersey Road has been restored to its Italian roots, and it seems the good burghers of Paddington and Woollahra couldn’t be more pleased about it.
The compact Victorian-era corner building was packed to the rafters on the Tuesday evening I dined. The awkwardly-shaped space is now in the hands of Rose Bay Italian darling, I Maccheroni.
This established Italian restaurant team moved over from Rose Bay because their former building was slated to be demolished, making way for – you guessed it – more apartments. Their arrival restores this space’s Italian tradition set down by Buzo, after a series of short-lived deviations as Pinbone and Jersey Road Bistro.
What has locals flocking in on a Tuesday night is a regionally focused Fixed Price Menu ($39/3 courses). The chalkboard proclaims tonight is Puglia, the heel of Italy’s famous “boot”, and sets out the three course menu in Italian. Friendly floor staff take the initiative to explain the dishes without being asked. Despite this obvious lure, we opt to eat from Chef Marcello Farioli’s tightly focused menu. As we select our meal from a short list of starters and antipasti, three pastas, two mains, two sides and two desserts, we remarking positively on the brevity to our waiter.
“After a big day of work, you go out and see three pages - you still have to use your brain,” the waiter explains. Against his suggested 2017 Colli Di Luni Il Bianco Vermentino ($68), I take some time to ponder this idea as we wait for our food - it is relaxing to have no doubts about what to order.
The wine itself is pretty but unremarkable, with a big acidic spine and a short palate length. The acidic simplicity works with the Smoked Cured Trout Carpaccio ($22) where long slices of gleaming orange fish are dressed with salsa verde and a fruity, preserved lemon peel condiment against bitter green leaves.
Smoked Burrata Panzerotti ($13) arrive as a threesome, which is awkward to share. Their filling is sparse with a delicate hint of smokiness, but on a bed of balancing misticanza (here it's good quality rocket) these deep fried snacks aren’t oily or hard to digest.
With Maccheroni ($30) in their name, there’s no doubt in my mind that we need to eat some. The long, soft house-made pasta tubes tangle with shredded osso buco, freshed up with spring onions and sun-dried tomato in a soupy mix of butter and wine, with thinly shaved cheese balancing the acidity. It’s a sweet and homely dish that I wouldn’t have minded a few more spoonfuls of.
I felt similarly about the Lasagnetta ($31) especially because it had a wonderful pastry-like texture with potato, mushroom and truffle béchamel that literally begged to be mopped up with crusty bread. It’s the first time I’ve had this creamy pasta dish, originating in the Northeastern Italy, and I loved it more than its tomato-based, Southern Italian cousin.
With an hour between courses, we were ravenous by the time our mains landed accompanied by a small bowl of rocket rather than our ordered Radicchio ($13) side. Luckily, with super crisp bitter leaves, sweet currants, crunchy walnuts and creamy cubes of pungent Gorgonzola cheese, the side proved worth the wait when it finally arrived at the end of our rapidly devoured pastas.
Two hours and fifteen minutes perched on a bar stool is about my limit in such a tiny space, so I treat the closing salad with cheese and dried fruit as a cheese course, and sally forth into the night. If I were dining at I Maccheroni again, I'd probably avoid their super-popular Tuesday night.
Thanks to AGFG for arranging this visit.
3 Jersey Road, Woollahra
Ph: (02) 9327 1416