Finally, I have found my affordable go to Italian restaurant in Perth. The only problem is that it has become everyone’s go to Italian restaurant. I am talking about Jamie’s Italian. Since it opened end of March I have forced my way in there 3 times. From a girl that does not wait in lines (see Treat 44: I just can’t wait) this is out of character for me. The food and experience is worth it. Jamie Oliver has the midas touch except instead of everything turning to gold it turns to amazing food. I love everything about Jamie’s Italian (except the waiting). If you think arriving there straight after work on a Monday will get you straight in…you would be wrong. Like all new things in Perth, we all flood there. Add Jamie Oliver’s name to it and it’s a tsunami effect. So two months in and the lines have not died down and good luck getting a dinner booking before August. So it might not be the easiest restaurant to get into but once you get a table, the juice is worth the squeeze. Each time I have been there I have not paid more than $50 for a drink, starters, mains and dessert. Imagine being able to order a pasta main for under $20. It’s almost Siena prices (see Quick Treat: It is what it is) but it’s fresh pasta made in the restaurant. Before I get ahead of myself I can’t forget to mention you get complimentary bread. It’s not just a basic Italian loaf. You get variety! Did I mention it’s FREE! The menu is quite overwhelming. To help my followers I have made sure to try new things every time I go. What can I say I am a dedicated blogger. Below is my recommendation list of what you should order at Jamie’s Italian:
For an easy drinking red get the Umani Ronchi Motepulciano D’Abruzzo 2011. For $43 the bottle this Abruzzo wine is great value and matches most dishes
Antipasti – Planks
The planks are a novelty starter at Jamie’s. It is literally a plank of antipasto on top of two canned tomatoes. Hot tip here – don’t order per person. If six people are on your table you don’t need to order six serves. For a table of six, three serves will suffice. There are three varieties of planks to choose from: vegetarian, meat and fish. I have tried all three and the favourite had to be the fish. The highlight for me was the beetroot-cured salmon in its cold bowl. I don’t know how they did it but it was mighty delicious. I was surprised to see yuzu mayo at an Italian restaurant. As I continue to develop my Japanese knowledge I have learnt that yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit similar to a sour mandarin or small grapefruit. The yuzu mayo is like a fancy take on tartar sauce for the mini fritto misto (the fancy Italian way of saying battered seafood). All the planks have cheese including Jamie Oliver’s favourite, an aged pecorino with crispy “music bread” & chilli jam. There is also a crispy beetroot and carrot slaw to refresh your palate for the mains.
Antipasti – Plates
So you can’t stop your starters at the planks. There is just too much to choose from. The fried squid is a favourite, perfectly crispy and deliciously accompanied with a garlic mayo. Another recommendation is the baked mushrooms. As Jamie Oliver says, mushrooms have great flavour and he doesn’t stick to the boring buttercup mushrooms. I would get this starter to come with your main to add some vegetables to it otherwise you might find your table overflowing thanks to the planks.
Pasta and risotto
Now you can get overwhelmed with the pasta options. I know I have. To remedy this, my table and I usually decide on a pasta or risotto to accompany the entrees. Yes I know pasta for entrees and mains might seem like a carbo overload but it will help overcome the indecisiveness. Here are a few options that I recommend:
• Wild rabbit tagliolini: slow-cooked McLeay Valley rabbit ragu with garlic & herbs, mascarpone and amalfi lemon. This pasta is a citrus delight for the senses. The lemon makes what could be a heavy creamy pasta into a very deceptively easy to eat meal. Get the main size and you will feel a siesta effect. To prevent this stick to an entrée size and leave room for dessert.
• Prawn linguini: Now the first time I saw this dish my friend Kirsty ordered it and I got food envy. Not that anything was wrong with the dish I ordered but nothing beats the simple chilli and garlic combination. So far this is my favourite pasta on the menu. The seafood bucatini has similar flavours and is cutely presented in bag with mussels, clams and prawns. However, out of the two go for the prawn linguini instead.
• Honeycomb cannelloni 3 ways: Unlike what the title suggests there is no honeycomb in this dish to my initial disappointment. It refers to what the dish looks like, with the cut pieces of cannelloni representing a honeycomb. This inventive take on the cannelloni goes beyond the basic flavour combination of spinach and ricotta. Aubergine and pumpkin is also added to the mix to give you three ways.
• Wild truffle risotto: In an earlier blog I looked at why there was a fuss over truffles especially because they are so expensive (see Treat 16: What’s the kerfuffle about truffle?). This dish was recommended by the guy front of house (I don’t know what his name was but his service was amazing). He recommended this as an entrée to share because of its richness. Each spoonful was a pleasure to eat. I’m not sure if it’s the truffle that takes the credit or the parmesan and butter combination or a combination of all three. This is a MUST try.
As the hero of Jamie’s Italian is the pasta I usually keep to this option. I will however recommend one of the mains, the fish baked in the bag. This is another signature dish of Jamie’s Italian with local fish (we had barramundi) baked in the bag with clams, mussels, fennel, chilli, anchovies and cracked wheat. This is a popular item as you will find out with many plates coming out of the kitchen with alfoil. My friend Alisa found this dish spicy so get excited if you like heat in your meals. This also is quite filling so keep that in mind if you want to fit in dessert. If you have tried other mains that you recommend please leave a comment below.
Now there is always room for dessert even if you get over excited with starters. Don’t waste your time staring at the menu. Get the brownie. It’s ooey gooey chocolate goodness. Another recommendation is the ice cream with random flavours like peanut disaster (my personal favourite) and death by chocolate. Flavours change daily so ask your waiter. It’s made by Australian ice cream maker Serendipity and is another example of Jamie using local producers to feed the restaurant. They even use Fiori coffee, which is my favourite coffee supplier in WA. I go out of my way to find Fiori coffee in Perth and sometimes pay the price for it ($4.80 for a take away coffee at a café near my work).
As you can tell I’m absolutely in love with Jamie’s Italian. The attention to detail is evident in the décor and service. No wonder there is over 35 restaurants all over the world. The service is polished and unique to Perth. The knowledge shows the emphasis that Jamie’s Italian puts on training their staff. Though it’s not always perfect, two times I have been there they forgot a salad. This is easy to forgive because we are full without it. Despite the chaos of people, the staff are cool under pressure and provide excellent and warm service. They are also very happy to ask questions and it’s impressive to see them answer the questions from the top of their heads. I know this should be a standard at restaurants but Perth is not known for good service. I wish there was something wrong with this place so I good complain about it to help the lines die down. I’m just so happy that Jamie Oliver chose Perth over Melbourne to open this establishment. Jamie’s Italian is a welcome addition to Perth. Thank you Jamie Oliver for bringing delicious pasta at friendly prices and amazing service.
THE FOOD JOURNEY
Sorry no photos – I was too busy eating. I always forget when I get overwhelmed. My brother did buy this awesome SLR camera that I’m going to figure how to use. Coming soon…professional photos instead of blurry iPhone 3 photos.