Asian Fusion Italian Japanese

ANTE – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

This lunch at Ante was in temporal proximity to Valentine’s Day but hunger was the only emotion in my mind when I suggested we go. It is a shame because the mere realisation of the date at the time could’ve turned this into a Valentine’s Day celebration rather than another year in which we did nothing for Valentine’s Day.

This travella katsu sandwich with katsu mayo ($17) was pretty good. The katsu fish, apparently minced in the same way as tsukune (the chicken meatball yakitori) had a good crunch but a very light and subtle flavour, and so most of the experience was formed by the sweet and savoury flavour of the light curry mayonnaise. I appreciated the use of a very thin, light, an soft serving of bread, which allowed all the other textures and flavours to be appreciated more clearly.

My partner and I have found ourselves struggling to resist a bit of raw seasoned beef, and Ante’s beef tartare with smoky almond and green olive ($28) was no exception. Similar to situations in which the call is coming from inside the house, the cracker of this tartare dish was coming from inside the meat, with small grains of puffed rice providing the familiar crackery texture in the mouth, whilst not at all aiding one in actually eating it as a cracker normally would. A previous menu found online had specified that their tartare was made of retired dairy cows, which I think is sadder than it is nice. The poor cow’s worked hard all her life making milk and babies, and instead of getting to live out the rest of her postmenopausal days in a nice lush green pasture somewhere, she gets diced up into tiny cubes and eaten raw. I only want to eat palliated end-of-life cow tartare from now on.

The chawanmushi with brown butter crab and herbs ($27) was described to us as large format chawanmushi, though while it turned out to be very large in terms of surface area and circumference, the plate was also much shallower than your standard. The dish was quite oily, owing to the massive amount of brown butter sauce, silky and smooth in texture, and quite sweet, giving it an almost dessert-like quality. Our waiter did say that they used the sweetest possible crab, and we were impressed not only by the sweetness but also the extreme tenderness of the crab. It was pretty good.

Last but not least was the casarecce with prawns, kanzuri, and clementine ($36). I think the one sentence description of this pasta dish would be a ‘very good, wet garlic bread’. Certainly garlic bread was the first taste that came to me, followed by a sweetness, punctuated in some mouthfuls by a hint of fresh citrus and a base of mild spiciness. Texturally the pasta was quite al dente, with harder, chewier prawns that contrasted with that of the pasta, but not to their detriment. This was a real plate licker of a dish. It was an act of cruelty to only give us one spoon.

Overall: Pretty good! Japanese-Italian fusion.

146 King St, Newtown NSW 2042


Scopri – Carlton VIC Restaurant Review

Full disclosure, I’ve had these photos sitting on my computer for the past six months because I’ve been a bit burnt out from Pegfeeding about my Melbourne trip, especially as out-of-Sydney experiences aren’t really why anyone reads this blog anyway. Keen noticers will have noticed that Melbourne reviews have been going up outside of the regular schedule, as they do not form the core content of this blog. I think ultimately the delay is OK though because this is going to be a positive review.

The prelude to our meal at Scopri was us calling an unnamed popular CBD Italian restaurant, confirming that they were still open in the early afternoon, then arriving there about 15 minutes later only for them to gaslight us and tell us they were closed until their dinner service. It is only thanks to them that we were able to have quite a nice meal in a suburban neighbourhood restaurant a little bit out of the way.

The house made bread was pretty good, and complimentary, which made it even better. It was rusty on the outside and gooey and glutinous on the outside, served with some olive oil for dipping.

This Quail Risotto was excellent. It was a daily special so I don’t know how much it was, but whatever it was it was worth it. The sauce was incredibly rich, with a combination of the earthy umami of the mushrooms and the funk of the gorgonzola. The mushrooms were plentiful, and their texture interspersed within the al dente grains made for a good mouth-experience. It’s rare that the protein isn’t a highlight of the dish, and whilst the quail was juicy and also good, ultimately it was the risotto itself that did it for me.

This Agnolotti del Plin ($35) with roasted rabbit, pork, and veal finished in butter and sage was also delicious. The combination of different animals was not weird at all, and only resulted in a very meaty and satisfying filling to each angolotto. The sagey, buttery sauce was divine, and excellent to be mopped up with the aforementioned house baked bread.

The Pappardelle Ragu D’anatra ($35) was a more standard approach to a duck ragu pappardelle, which was tasty and good but not a highlight in view of the high level of excellence achieved by the risotto and agnolotti. But won’t disappoint if ragu is what your craving. This photo is of half a serving of the full size.

This is a good and gigantic tiramisu ($10) that is off menu and asked for specifically.

OVERALL The dining experience was pleasurable. As introverts we appreciated not being interacted with, just as we are sure that the other diners probably enjoyed being looked after more closely by the host. We also liked that each of the mains were split into two servings for ease of sharing, even though we had absolutely just planned to pass our plates around like uncultured animals. A nod from me.

191 Nicholson St, Carlton VIC 3053
(03) 9347 8252


Osteria di Russo & Russo – Enmore NSW Restaurant Review

I am becoming increasingly convinced that Jowoon Oh is incapable of cooking a bad meal. As silent followers of his career ever since we first ate at Casoni back in 2020, my partner and I have been salivating over the perfectly framed overhead shots of pasta and other goodies on his Instagram all year, finally finding the opportunity to consummate things last night.

We started with this free bread and cultured butter. I don’t always have a lot to say about free bread, but this bread was actually different. It had a nice sweetness and fruitiness, reminiscent of a mild raisin toast without the raisins. I think it was delicious on its own, and actually better without the slightly herbed cultured butter. This bread inspired us to buy some raisin toast at the local supermarket on the way home. It was that good. I wonder if we could’ve had more bread. I guess we could’ve asked.

The photos in this review aren’t really good, and as I told our dining partners EH and EC they’re really just here to provide proof that we actually attended, lest anyone complain that I’m slandering them for no good reason (not that that’s going to be a concern here – this is going to be a generally positive review). Despite the poor photo quality, I’m pretty sure this shade of pink was the actual colour of the wagyu tartare ($6 each, 4 pictured). This snack of wagyu and corn on bread was really quite good, with a good synergy between the charred corn, a little bit of fermented chilli, and the wagyu beef. It was served on a tiny quarter of grilled focaccia, which was served warm and oily – a delicious contrast to the cooler meat topping.

I didn’t love the bone marrow on garlic bread with ciauscolo and salsa macha ($26), which I didn’t feel was a particularly cohesive dish. I enjoyed the nice and toasty garlic bread, which had slight hint of the memory of Casoni’s black garlic bread, but didn’t really know how the bone marrow went with or added to the rest of the dish.

I also did not love the chargrilled kingfish collar with blood lime salsa ($26). I find that kingfish collar is often quite fishy, even as someone who does enjoy both fish and kingfish specifically. I didn’t have much of this, but I did enjoy the 11chargrilled lemon as a juice on top of the fish.

This casarecce with spanner crab, sweet corn, caviar, and kombu ($34) was really good. So umami and creamy, and though the spanner crab itself was a little difficult to identify, this didn’t really detract from the experience.

The linguini with Moreton Bay bug, scallop XO, and salmon roe ($38) was also very good. We had this one first, thought it was great, and were blown away by how good the other pasta was as well. We thought that both pastas were on the top tier of pastas that we’ve had in Sydney.

The grilled duck breast with burnt mandarin and freekeh ($39) was probably some of the best duck we’ve ever had. We’ve been known to mostly enjoy Cantonese roast duck, and not enjoy any of the other more Westernised ducks that we eat, but this one was actually very good. The meat was tender, with a crispy and flavourful skin and nice citrus jus. I had actually forgotten that we had ordered this dish, and it was a pleasant surprise when it came.

We finished with the hazelnut semifreddo cremino, nutella, nougat and popcorn ($16), which combined coldness with sweet and salty flavours in a manner similar to salted caramel popcorn.

We had a really nice meal at Osteria di Russo & Russo, enjoying most of what we had, but in particular the pasta. The Korean chefs of Sydney are doing great things in the Italian and French domains, and we continue to follow their careers with interest.

Osteria di Russo & Russo
158 Enmore Rd, Enmore NSW 2042
(02) 8068 5202


La Favola – Newtown NSW Restaurant Review

We went with a group of friends and colleagues to La Favola, Newtown Italian restaurant and home to a RPA nurse who moonlights in greener pastures.

This is a piece of bread covered in some diced tomato and minimal greenery. Three of these bruschetta can be had for $15, making this a $5 plate. As far as breads go this was pretty pleasant, and as far as tomatoes go these definitely were some. It didn’t really sing out to me, though I guess not all entrees have to.

Moving into specialty entree territory, La Favola considers its calamari ($19) as a signature dish. These were pretty good, soft, and not too battered. Their pale colour implied that they did not swim in the oil for too long. There was nothing either good nor bad about the aioli.

We were offered but did not order the zucchini flowers ($25 for a plate, more than what is pictured), and yet they arrived. Our waitress assured us that we had ordered them when questioned, though none of our party owned believed we did. They were pretty tasty to be honest, filled to the brim with a soft mix of mozzarella and ricotta. But that’s not the point!

My pasta of the night was the seafood pasta (daily special – $35). It was a good pasta in a classic red sauce, loaded with mussels, prawn, and fish. The spaghetti was coated well in the umami, seafoody sauce, and though expensive I thought it was worth it. I probably didn’t need the additional bread on top of the bruschetta from earlier.

La Favola
170 King St, Newtown NSW 2042
(02) 8021 0002


Ragazzi – Sydney NSW Restaurant Review

My ragazza and I went for a quick walk-in Sunday afternoon meal at CBD Italian restaurant Ragazzi. That it was a walk-in at 3PM in the afternoon is an important detail to mention, as though the website didn’t list any tables available for reservations, they had plenty of walk-in availability for outdoors seating at the time.

We started with this trevally crudo ($20) with buttermilk, jalapeno, curry leaf, and nigella seed. While the fish used changes seasonally, looking at previous menus I think that there is generally always a form of fish crudo on their menu. This was a great mixture of tangy, fresh and creamy, on some pretty crispy pieces of cracker. Very enjoyable.

A little less convincing was the smoked duck and mozarella croquette ($6), which was good in its fried-ness and creaminess but less forthcoming in its duckiness.

The raw beef, corn and black bean miso with almond ($9) was seriously good. We love a bit of raw beef handled in a safe and appropriate manner, and this particular raw beef was juicy and umami, with good texture and mouthfeel. The mixture of corn and miso was an unexpectedly strong pairing, and the cracker was crispy and delicious also. Our only regret was that we didn’t get two of these, but that did mean that we get to try more different dishes.

The trottole with duck sausage and purple kale ($32) was a decidedly more successful showing of duck than the duck croquette. This was a very tasty, buttery pasta dish with a huge amount of tasty duck sausage, interspersed with crispy and unusually delicious purple kale. The sauce coated and stuck to the pasta remarkably well, making each mouthful a consistent textural and taste experience. This is one of our best pastas in recent times.

Our meal probably should’ve ended there with the great duck sausage pasta, but my partner was keen on the burrata with roasted grapes, pine nuts, thyme and fried shallot ($21) for a bit of dessert. While this was fine, and in fact pretty good, with its mixture of sweetness from the grapes (I think there was some honey as well) and saltiness from the burrata, it wasn’t particularly $21 extra-ordinary. The day I discovered you can buy a pretty good burrata for $6.50 at the local supermarket was the day expensive restaurant burrata was ruined for me.

OVERALL this was a pretty good dining experience. Plenty of The White Lotus chat at the table next to us too. I’d go back.

Ragazzi Wine and Pasta
1 Angel Pl, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 8964 3062