Casoni is one of the nicest meals I’ve had in some time. The menu was described to us as “Modern Italian”, with a selection of Italian staples fused with some Japanese inspiration.
We started with the Wattle Seed Flatbread ($6). Originally our choice of topping was going to be the salmon roe, however as they were out of stock we had to improvise. After the reassurance of our host that the serving of bread would be “quite generous” and suited to having two sides/toppings, I chose the ortiz anchovies ($6) and green garlic burrata ($10). While the bread was warm, soft, fragrant and delicious, it turns out that “quite generous” was a straight out lie. I would not characterise the bread as being suited to having two toppings. One was more than enough, so much so that we weighed up whether or not we should order a second serving of flatbread to mop up voluminous sides.
The ortiz anchovies ($6) were salty. I think they always are. I’m yet to develop a taste for them. My partner straight up refused to try it (she’s a bit of a fish-o-phobe).
The garlic green burrata ($10) was quite delicious. The inside of the burrata was very wet. It was a great dish to spread on the bread.
The Black Garlic Bread ($8) is a must try. It is more of a dessert than a garlic bread, with a sweet glaze and sauce. The topping of miso butter was divine. It is a house specialty for a reason and I would recommend no one leave this restaurant without trying it (cats and other people who can’t have garlic aside).
The yellowfin tuna carpaccio with wasabi cream and burnt mandarin dressing ($18) was quite good but straddled the line towards being too tasty. I thought that the wasabi cream and burnt mandarin dressing overpowered the fish to the extent where I couldn’t really taste the star ingredient. While the flavours were good I wonder if a bit of tweaking is in order to highlight the tuna a bit better. Wasabi-phobes need not worry, the wasabi itself isn’t too strong.
The sausage and pecorino pappardelle ($?26) was delicious. The serving size was large enough to share between two. The pappardelle was fresh and soft and tasty – not too al dente for me. The serving of sausage was extremely and unexpectedly generous, there was enough for each bite, and the pecorino added a great sharp flavour to the dish. While I’ve read from other reviews that pasta isn’t Casoni’s strong point, my experience with this pasta would lead me to disagree. It was just fantastic.
INTERIM OPINION (DECEMBER 2020)
As I’m sure you can tell by now we really enjoyed our meal at Casoni. We can’t wait to go back.
SUBSEQUENT VISIT (APRIL 2022)
It turns out we could wait to go back, in fact we waited around a year and a half, taking advantage of Casoni’s late opening hours after a night at the museum.
The black garlic sourdough ($12) has now replaced the previous black garlic bread. The differences? This sourdough bread is now a bit more dense, as one could quite reasonably expect. Where the previous black garlic bread was quite sweet with its creamy topping, this dish was much more of a savoury affair, with the miso butter imparting quite a salty taste.
The wagyu tartare ($19) with sundried tomato and coriander seed matched with sunchoke crispy was a pretty solid, inoffensive and even tasty tartare. Its flavouring was a bit of a departure from your usual tartare, its sourness a bit sweeter owing to the use of tomato rather than your classic capers. I found the meat a bit overrepresented in comparison to the creme fraiche and crisp however, and we quickly ran out of yummy crisp to put the tartare on.
The signature croquette ($25) was a great addition to the menu. It featured an unbelievably creamy potato inner, coated in a delicious katsu-style crumb and fried to a somewhat unbelievable level of crispy perfection. The marscapone topping and abundance of salty umami salmon roe made for the perfect foil for the mild potato within. This dish reminded me of the roe course at Quay, but for a far more accessible price (plus, you don’t have to eat all the other disappointments there either).
The spanner crab tagliatelle ($31) with nduja, fermented mustard greens and burnt kombu was a solid pasta, though not revolutionary. The serving of crab was generous for the price, and the overall quality of the sauce and pasta met the high expectations set by our previous experience at Casoni.
Sometimes when you revisit a beloved restaurant you are disappointed by the ideals formed during your first visit. This was not the case with Casoni. They remain reliably excellent.
371-373 Bourke St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010
0449 516 798