The word “Margherita” is normally synonymous with pizza. It could also be mistaken for a cocktail, as this could be how you would spell it after drinking one too many. But “Margherita’s” is also the name of a new restaurant, vinoteca and charcuterie in the heart of World Square in Sydney. It is located in a laneway beside that large bull statue and it’s a seamless transition to a gorgeous Italian piazza where you could relax and enjoy the finer things in life, like hearty, good quality Italian food and wine.
The restaurant is the second one to be opened in the precinct by restauranteur, Jim Kospetas. The first was the casual eatery/café, Margherita & Co. which is just a stone’s throw away (or literally just across the way) from the vinoteca. Both of these restaurants specialise in pizzas and pastas but Margherita’s Vinoteca is like the suave, older sibling to its baby sister. This is because Margherita’s Vinoteca allows patrons more options with its mains and drinks as well as a large bar, booths and sit-down tables.
The menu for the vinoteca is designed by former Swine & Co chef, Robert Taylor. The ingredients are more exquisite than its sister store with Margherita’s Vinoteca ultimately feeling more like a trattoria or high-end wine bar that allows patrons to eat their way through premium quality salumi and cheese as well as various antipasti, stone-fired pizzas and mains. The menu – like the decor – seems fresh and contemporary but it also doesn’t turn its back on the best aspects of the past. The black and white artworks and projections give the setting an old-school glamour and take you back to little Italy while the produce and dishes are elegant and with a twist of modern Australian aspects thrown in as well.
The array of salumi ($9 per 30g) and cheese ($12 per 50g) is impressive and feels like it should be written on a blackboard in an old, Italian deli. These meats and cheeses come served with “bread” and “accompaniments” read: grape chutney, quince paste, grissini and flat bread. We sampled the San Daniele prosciutto (a highly-sought after cured meat from the Udine province in the North of Italy) and the bresaola (a dry-cured fillet of beef.) This was served with truffle honey ricotta and some hard Italian cheese, testun di Barolo. Ricotta is already a rather sweet and soft cheese that is sometimes used in desserts and the honey truffle added some extra saccharine to the cheese. This went really well with the chilli tones found in the grape chutney and the fruity, sparkling bubbles of the white wine, La Gioiosa prosecco ($10).
The lemon baked mozzarella with basil, dried chilli and white anchovies ($6 each)proved an interesting little entrée. This was made by scooping out most of the flesh of half a lemon and baking the cheese in it. This gave the filling a very tart, lemony flavour.
The Yamba king prawns with chilli, lime and garlic butter sauce ($26) were a real highlight. They were butter-flied and served in the shell (which sometimes proved challenging to eat in respectable company) but they were also so succulent and mouth-watering. They were everything you have ever wanted from a prawn and more.
To accompany the mains we had an Italian red wine produced by fattoria la Braccesca. The grape variety was the Sabazio rosso di Montepulciano ($60 per bottle) and is a native grape from the Abruzzo region. Italy has over 500 different grape varieties and while it can be a little daunting for people that only know about Shiraz, Pinot Noir, etc. it is great to sample something from a different region and to consume it as it was intended, i.e. alongside fine Italian food.
The pasta we tried was the linguine nero ($26.) This was a squid-ink linguine accompanied by a sauce made up of swimmer crab, cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic, chilli and bottarga (a salted, cured fish roe.) This sauce had a strong citrus flavour and this complimented the saltiness of the crab and the squid-ink that flavoured the pasta. The linguine was also quite delicate and the overall feel was of a deceptively simple yet flavoursome sauce.
The ocean trout with braised chickpeas and pinenut crust ($26) was a feast for the eyes and the mouth. It was dressed with some crispy, fried kale and the deep green colour popped against the dark and fragrant orange puree. This was a hearty and earthy dish and the fish was cooked to perfection and boasted a crispy, nutty crust. This dish was something I could eat again and again.
For dessert we had a moist and fluffy tiramisu ($14.), the famous Italian dessert made with coffee, mascarpone and fingers of sponge cake. We also followed this with a shot of limoncello ($10-15.) Margherita’s Vinoteca has an impressive four different types of limoncello on the menu as well as lots of dessert wines, cocktails, spirits, wines and beers. It means this is a venue that you could easily enjoy a sneaky after-work drink or two as well as a relaxed, sit-down dinner in the company of good friends and be supported by staff who are passionate and knowledgeable about great food and drink.
Address: Shop 15, 91 Liverpool St, Hordern Arcade Sydney NSW 2000
Contact: (02) 92838634
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday: 11am – late; Saturday: 5pm – late (private functions/event bookings also available).
Originally published on 15 August 2016 at the following website: http://food.theaureview.com/dining/review-margheritas-vinoteca-cbd-sydney/
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