Tucked under a little white cloud of coconut foam, chef Alessandro Intini’s gelatin-free pig’s head terrine is soft and flavoursome. Cooked with master stock, this dish draws upon his training as a butcher to create a combination that feels unique albeit with a sly nod to our Pasifikan neighbours who’ve been cooking the whole pig with coconuts for ages. It’s a ten buck up-sell on Noi’s Tasting Menu ($72/head) and worth every penny.
With a name that translates to “us”, it’s clear from the outset that this understated Petersham newcomer is a collaborative affair. Intini has partnered up with Anastasia Drakopoulos, the daughter of Sydney Restaurant Group baron, Bill Drakopoulos, after the pair met at Aqua Dining.
Intini has co-opted his life and cooking partner, Federica Costa, into the long, open kitchen as well. Fronted by a long, marble-topped bar, it takes up a good portion of the floor space in the narrow Petersham newcomer.
They’ve come up with some innovative solutions to the lack of space though, like an under-stair wine cellar visible through a cute triangular window. After a peek in the gold-plated brown leather guidebook (the finishes at Noi, from curvy cutlery to leather-strapped aprons, are on point) we settle on The Confluence ($89).
It's a 2018 grenache from McLaren Vale that tastes of blackcurrant and plum skin, stem and pepper until you dip into the LuMi-style flurry of snacks when it takes on a jammy edge.
A steamer basket of snacks sees mini cheese souffles teamed with carrot and pickled enoki contrasted with one-bite smoked trout numbers.
Hot on their heels, a treasure box of breads is stuffed with grissini, springy focaccia and piping hot milk bun pillows plucked straight from the oven, matched to anchovy butter and injectable pipettes of fruity olive oil.
Puffed buckwheat, raspberry and green peppercorn mayo. adds a little snap, crackle and creamy pop to a clever beef tartare that’s as tasty as it is eye-catching.
Under a dusting of egg yolk, ham and nutmeg take asparagus spears somewhere Christmassy.
Cannelloni harks back to the Italian tricolour tradition using sheep curd, basil and tomato. Burst of brightly acidic semi-dried tomatoes, crisp pepitas and tomato that’s more syrup than sauce, help to refine this into a pasta dish befitting of contemporary fine dining predilections.
Spanish mackerel is presented with an exploration of fennel – pureed, pickled and roasted with great charry bits – against the golden-topped fillet of well-cooked fish. Teamed with the lean, 2017 Warramate Chardonnay ($17/glass) from the Yarra Valley, it’s another winner.
Thanks to the confident floor team, who happily exchange good-humoured banter, we opt into Apricot Prosecco ($8/each). It's an enjoyable palate cleanser that teams a fairly flavourless prosecco gel with a lovely apricot sorbet, dried apricot and crumbled pistachios.
Dessert proper is yoghurt panna cotta with almond crumble and rockmelon foam. Rockmelon isn’t quite my caper, so I happily refresh my palate with a lemony Moscato Sardegna ($15) before gobbling the shortbread cookies filled with minty chocolate ganache that accompany the bill.
While Noi is pricy - I think the wine markups in particular are high - as the kitchen delivered in spades, my only real complaint is with the uninspiring (and undersized) art.
Best to make sure the paintings aren’t outclassed by the distressed brick wall behind them.
108 Audley Street, Petersham
Ph: (02) 9337 7377