Amalfi Dreams at Da Gianni Trattotoria

by Forager on January 21, 2009

Last night a girlfriend and I had tickets to a gig at the Enmore Theatre so I decided to choose dinner at a restaurant in the nearby area. I decided on the southern Italian cuisine at Da Gianni Trattoria in Annandale. It scored 14/20 in the 2009 SMH Good Food Guide so it was a pretty safe and affordable bet.

We were a bit concerned when we arrived as the restaurant was empty. I hate quiet restaurants – no matter how good the restaurant is. I get the overwhelming urge to whisper and act as though I’m in a library. Luckily a few other groups came in soon enough to break the air of awkwardness. We decide on some pre-dinner drinks to start – the menu is tempting but we both decide on the “Amalfi Dream” – a refreshing mix of limoncello, prosecco, lemon and mint. We pair this with the waiter’s recommendation – fried green olives stuffed with goats cheese. These were very strongly flavoured – which we soon find is a recurring theme during the meal. My dinner companion Danielle thinks the frying has overpowered the subtle flavours of the goat’s cheese and I’d have to agree.

For our mains I chose the wet roasted milk-fed suckling lamb and Danielle has the grass-fed rib eye with porcini. Both are again packed with flavour but very enjoyable. My lamb is exquisitely tender and falls off the bone. The tomato and caper sauce and parmesan crust are strong but complementary. The rib eye is tender and cooked to perfection. The porcini sauce seems like just a fancy twist on a traditonal steak sauce but again the flavours are powerful here and the resulting dish bears no resemblance to what I’d expect from a simple steak with mushroom sauce.

In place of a salad we chose the insalata caprese – buffalo mozzarella with basil, ox heart tomato, aged balsamic vinegar and topped with boccarones (marinated white anchovies). This dish was just the perfect accompaniment to our flavour packed dishes. The very generous portion of buffalo mozzarella itself looked daunting at first but when we tasted it we realised it was incredibly light and fluffy. The tomato, basil and buffalo mozzarella alone was very subtley flavoured. The addition of the boccarones adds that depth of flavour present in all the other dishes we tried, and transforms the dish into something more complex. Both versions have their benefits.

All in all the meal was very enjoyable – the strong and robust flavours are typical of hearty passionate southern Italian cuisine and right up my alley. In saying that it may be too much for those that prefer more subtle, delicate flavours. The wait staff were friendly and attentive too – but I think that was partly because our waiter quite fancied my dinner companion!

127 Booth Street Annandale, (02) 9660 6652
Open for lunch on Friday 12:00 – 15:00; dinner on Monday – Saturday from 18:00 to late.

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