It’s Sunday afternoon, the sun is shining in Sydney, we’ve just spent an enjoyable day at the Australian Museum and we are starting to feel a bit peckish – when the question was asked “Where do you want to go for something to eat?” we were both on the same page – Otto Ristorante.
Located on the stunning harbourside of Cowper Wharf in Woolloomooloo, Otto offers modern Italian cuisine in a fine dining setting.
Seated outside with the sun glistening on the harbour with views of the magnificent (and expensive) boats moored along the wharf, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect spot to while away the afternoon.
As hard as it is to draw our eyes away from the views, a more urgent matter awaits – ordering wine. It is a beautiful sunny day and to embrace the Summer of Riesling campaign, we chose a 2011 Crawford River Riesling from Condah in Victoria – perfect.
Enjoying our wine and complimentary warm homemade bread and olive oil, we check out the menu. We know from past experiences of dining at Otto that whatever we order is going to be fantastic. The use of the freshest ingredients and the imagination of Head Chef Richard Ptacnik always delights. Vegetarians and vegans are not just catered for at Otto they are actually made to feel welcome, which makes a pleasant change!
For starters we went for the Ravioli Barbabietola (beetroot ravioli with goats curd, pistachio and horseradish) and the Capesante (seared scallops, Jerusalem artichoke veloute, veal sweetbreads, potato chips, caperberries and mugolio).
Slicing through the vibrantly coloured beetroot ravioli revealed the smooth and creamy goat’s curd – such a classic flavour combination. The pistachios, whilst adding a great visual element to the dish, also added a crunchy texture. Kevin’s scallops where plump and juicy, perfectly cooked. The other elements on the plate added different textures but it was all about the scallops for Kevin.
After lingering over our starters wishing they would never end, we once again sat back and enjoyed the views and the Riesling.
For our mains we chose the Risotto (with spinach, burrata, garlic crumble and cavolo nero crisps) and Maiale (Byron Bay Berkshire pork tenderloin wrapped in pancetta, onion puree, parsley roots, black pudding, with a carrot and pepper dressing).
I was immediately wowed by the colour of my risotto, wonderfully green interspersed by the pure white burrata cheese. The cavolo nero crisps perched on top had the perfect crunchiness. The whole dish was packed with flavour. Kevin’s Berkshire pork was plentiful and succulent, the pork being encased in crispy pancetta. The black pudding had just the right amount of spice to accompany the pork. The smooth onion puree and crisp parsley roots gives another textural element to the dish.
Two courses down one to go. As a vegetarian I love desserts as I can pretty much order anything on the menu as opposed to entrees and mains. The desserts at Otto allow you to fully indulge - not a place for dieters. We order the Mousse alla Gianduja (hazelnut and white chocolate mousse, gianduja ganache, white chocolate sorbet and peanut butter wafer) and the Brulee (buffalo ricotta brulee, balsamic figs, pistachios and buttermilk ice cream).
All I can say is WOW, the mousse is just an explosion of flavours and textures on a plate. Smooth, not too sweet, mousse with crunchy wafers and bursts of whole hazelnuts and crumbled nuts – I’m in dessert heaven. Kevin’s brulee was lovely and creamy, with beautifully caramelised figs, crunchy pistachios and rich, but not overly sweet, vanilla infused buttermilk ice cream. The perfect end to a perfect meal.
Otto Ristorante is our “treat ourselves” restaurant, a bit expensive but worth a special treat every now and again. Gorgeous setting on the wharf, knowledgeable and attentive staff, imaginative menu with the use of fresh seasonal produce, extensive wine list – everything you want in a restaurant.
What is your favourite Sydney restaurant?
Otto Ristorante, Area 8, 8 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo, Sydney
Tel: 02 9368 7488
Opening hours: Mon-Sun: 12 noon-10.30pm