Verde Restaurant Sydney delicious Italian
The last time I was in Sydney I mentioned on Facebook that I’d enjoyed the best meal of my life. A number of people have since asked if I was joking, but actually no, I was totally serious.
On a mission to discover a Sydney beyond the tourist traps, Cooper and I found ourselves wandering just under ten minutes from our Potts Point accommodation (or King’s Cross station as a landmark) to a suburban restaurant surrounded by beautiful tree lined streets and swimming with aromas of Italy.
Our noses led us to Verde Restaurant & Bar, recent winner of three prestigious Chef’s Hats. As the sun set across the city, we wandered into this very elegant, intimate establishment – a stunning, heritage listed Victorian building, situated on the corner of Stanley and 115 Riley Street within an area renowned as being East Sydney’s ‘Little Italy’.
Our usual dining routine is this: Take a seat, choose a main, perhaps an entrée if really hungry – both of which would be dishes familiar to us; scoff meal, leave full and with any luck, feel generally satisfied.
At Verde Restaurant Sydney however, because we had arrived just prior to the evening rush, we had the pleasure of chatting to Antonio Ruggerino, owner and head chef (pictured below), who insisted we try it his way. Antonio is one of those truly passionate Italians who is as enthusiastic about food as he is knowledgeable.
He’s worked for a variety of excellent restaurants all over the world, but told us his real inspiration stemmed from a love of hanging out – watching and learning – in the family kitchen as a child. Antonio’s always loved food, and was smart enough to follow this passion into an adult career.
And how could we resist anyone who said to us he wanted to “Feed us like we’re true Italian family”? Deal.
So began our foray into tasting smaller portions of a wide variety of dishes (entrées, mains and desserts) featured on the Verde menu rather than one or two larger items resulting in our usual predictable outcome.
As we enjoyed a divine glass of sparkling wine, we eagerly anticipated what would emerge first. A large plate brimming with samples predominantly from the entrée menu appeared in no time. Take a look at the menu HERE, and as your mouth waters, let me assure you these taste even better than they sound.
The Zucchini flowers filled with ricotta and spinach are divine, and the chilli dusted calamari melts in your mouth. We tried about ten different items however, and each offered a taste phenomenon that had us longing for more in between expressions like, “wow”, “how did he do that” and “that’s sooo good”.
One thing we loved about Antonio’s food is that it wasn’t overdone. It’s not ‘too fancy’ – it’s actually quite simple cuisine but tasty and perfectly prepared, cooked and matched with complementary ingredients.
Then came a round of options from the mains menu. The Gnocchi (home made), Mozzarella di Buffalo, parsley, Tomato Sugo was to die for – a delicious explosion of tomato and cheese flavours and alluring textures. I had to be restrained from licking my plate. We also tried Confit of Duck Leg with herb Gnocchi, Caramelised Balsamic Pear which to our absolute shock, we loved. We’re not really big fans of duck, but this meat was tender and not gamey at all, and the pear’s sweetness was a perfect accompaniment to the other flavours emanating from this course. Like everything he gave us, this was plate-lickingly good!
We continued to indulge in whatever came our way, and our eyes grew wide with glee when a plate of dessert treats emerged, my favourite being the Crumble Apple & Cinnamon with Caramelised Almonds and Vanilla Gelato. OMG! I was so enamoured of this dish that I only scraped a mouthful or two of other sweet delights that Cooper had quickly devoured while I wasn’t paying attention.
The entire meal wasn’t a meal, but a culinary experience. We tried food we would never have ordered therefore we enjoyed encountering something new! And we left feeling entirely satisfied but not sickly full. It seems Antonio really does know his stuff, not just flavours that will suit one’s mood or even the weather outside, but he understands portions too.
It’s about the experience
The reason this all came about, is because Antonio prides himself on being a master of selecting cuisine he instinctively knows diners will love, but that we wouldn’t order for ourselves. It’s disappointing to him that people miss out on these kinds of experiences, so much so he is now encouraging diners to let he and his team take charge. Don’t worry about decision making – entrust your experience to him, and for a fraction of the price of a traditional degustation menu, anyone can put Antonio’s skills to the test – and you really should, because we bet you’ll be surprised and delighted every time. Drop into Verde, tell Antonio what you or any of your party don’t eat, and he’ll then serve you the best meal of your life. Simple and delicious.
If you’re seeking an authentic Sydney experience and a quality place to dine where Antonio serves up his very own perfect, traditional southern Italian family recipes, we’d encourage you to try Verde. It’s just lovely! There’s a marble bar too, and an extensive wine list; private areas for functions, and many cosy options for you, friends, family and colleagues.