Enter Chef Luca De Berardinis, previously in helming roles at Michelin-starred Nicolini’s and Il Milione, and instantly gone are the Japanese ingredients and clever Japanese twists of Operetta’s previous culinary director, Mitsuru Konishi. De Berardinis, who earned his stripes in some of Italy’s most reputed restaurants – including Ristorante San Domenico on the fringes of Bologna and Ristorante Perbellini in Verona – unleashed his debut seasonal Mediterranean menu this month.
Star of the refreshed starters list is a lightly marinated beef carpaccio, beautifully presented as a frisée-topped ring, with green peas, pea purée and a truffle sauce. Sweet shrimp tartar’s and summer heirloom tomatoes are balanced with a bitter edge of grilled zucchini.
From the pizza list, calzone Provolone – with smoked ham, tomato sauce and thyme – is a thin, crispy-encased flavoursome take on what can be a stodgy stuffed folded pizza.
Pasta hits include spaghetti fish roe “carbonara” style – with only a nod to the traditional recipe and its variations, this one incorporates bottarga (cured mullet roe), salmon roe and fresh parsley, and is crowned with Sevruga caviar; despite these ingredients, it’s not overly rich and benefits from the al dente bite of the pasta. Lamb ragout pappardelle uses silky fresh house pasta that soaks up a robust chopped lamb and morel sauce and all is topped with crispy kale leaves. For a top main, try the oven-baked Italian sea bass with potato and cherry tomato – seasoned and cooked in Italian olive oil – and the slightly charred Australian Black Angus grilled tomahawk streak; both are all about simple cooking with quality ingredients. Real table pleasers.
We’ve heard desserts here are supposed to be worth investigating – there’s an intriguing Limoncello-laced tiramisu, among them.
Wines picks are interesting. La Staffa Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jessi 2015 is a bit of a mouthful, but its mouthfeel is very elegant – a mineral-forward, immensely pairable choice for less intense flavours. Il Marroneto Montalcino 2014, at the other end of the spectrum, is a great fruity and tannic vintage but not overpowering.