Vanessa: As many of our readers know, our Italian heritage and penchant for home cooked Italian meals by our grandparents mean that our benchmark may be slightly skewed when it comes to Italian food. None the less, our avid readers will also know that we are lovers of carbs and not ones to shy away from a hearty feed either!
Our lunching location for this particular Sunday afternoon was Italian Street Kitchen located in the bustling eatery hub of Neutral Bay. A suburb that is thoroughly spoilt for dining choices means those that enter the mix need to push the boat out to make an impact.
Italian Street Kitchen pays homage to traditional Italian street food recipes handed down from mothers and grandmothers. This sense of home-style cooking appeals to us with Italian food as it generally means the food is true to its origins without being altered for visual or culinary effect. Italian Street Kitchen embodies the Italian way of eating and sharing and encourages their patrons to embrace this. Orders are taken at the counter and then served by wait staff to your table.
As per usual, we went in with a mission of ordering as much as possible to experience as much of the menu as we could and I think we did a pretty good job of that!
We kicked off our meals with a range of dishes from the antipasto menu. These dishes are definitely ideal for sharing and a good way to experience a broad range of flavours. We started off with the arancini of roasted pumpkin, smoked provolone, parmesan, thyme and panko crumb which were bite-sized and super crunchy ($3.50 each) .
This was closely followed by ..wait for it…fried cheese ($4.50)! These little morsels of Fior Di Latte, parmesan, ham, basil and panko crumb were perfectly crunchy on the outside with melted cheese oozing from the inside..delicious is an understatement!
Whilst we were on the “fried bandwagon” we decided to throw the fried calzone ($9.50) filled with fresh ham and basil into the mix. This is a substantial portion, good for sharing but I personally found it a little dense and on the oily side.
The marinated grilled eggplants with garlic, fresh chilli and tomato served with rosemary focaccia ($4) is a neat serve and ideal to break up the fried/carb options in the form of a vegetable. It had a bold flavour from the garlic and chilli with only a hint of a kick.
From the main menu we chose the fettuccine carbonara ($16.50). A luxuriously rich and creamy concoction of cured pork cheek, pecorino cheese and garlic in egg yolk sauce. The egg yolk sauce does give it a rather thick consistency but personally I really enjoyed the flavour and would recommend trying it for those that are fans of a white sauce.
From the wood-fired over we ordered the traditional Roman style pork belly ($19). The rosemary tones were strong and the crackling had a solid crunch. The meat was slightly dry but overall the dish had good flavour.
And of course we couldn’t come to a place serving Italian street food without trying their pizza. We opted for the Gustosa Pizza ($15.50) topped with mozzarella, mushroom, Italian sausage, parmesan and truffle oil. A truly delicious flavour combination and the truffle oil elevated it to the next level. The crust was slightly undercooked for my liking and had it had just one or two more minutes it would heave been perfect.
We also ordered a radicchio salad ($8) topped with feta cheese, fennel, black olive and lemon oil dressing. The ordering of the salad was more to make ourselves feel better by ordering a lighter option although in all honesty I only had one leaf so I can’t fairly report back on it.
As you can see we had quite the spread and as we sat back and undid our top buttons, it was time to make some important decisions around dessert!
We are all lovers of tiramisu at Team FFS, Bianca in particular. Tiramisu happens to be my go-to dish to make for any dinner party or invited occasion so I seldom order it out, but I have to say this one was a winner! Creamy marscapone and bold coffee flavours make for the perfect combination, it is light on the alcohol side too which can sometimes overpower a tiramisu. Pop it on the must-try list when you come!
If the tiramisu is on the “must-try” list then the next dish is on the “don’t leave here without trying list” because the Crema Fritta ($9) is a game changer! These crunchy portions of Italian fried custard creme were absolutely delicious and something I have never ever tried before. In fact, I have never seen or heard of them before. We loved them, they got the tick of approval all round from us.
Now , as if sensing the love we have for Nutella, a Calzone ($9) filled with Nutella and vanilla gelato is brought over to our table. Oh the bitter-sweet feeling we felt of delight mixed with regret knowing we were physically unable to fit another bite in. We were able to take this one away with us in a “doggie bag” so fear not, it was not wasted. Beautifully presented with icing sugar, it is a generous serve with warm nutella oozing out once cut.
We rolled back to our cars vowing not to eat dinner that night as we were well and truly satisfied. Italian Street Kitchen delivers on its promise of serving up traditional Italian street food and I was very impressed with how reasonably priced the menu is. It’s a great choice for an easy and casual meal – check it out if you are in or around the area!
Photos by Alex
*For Foods Sake dined as guest of Italian Street Kitchen. All opinions expressed are our own.