Sunday, 5 January 2014

Rosetta Ristorante, Melbourne - 9 Dec 2013


Rosetta Ristorante was the first dinner venue during my week in Melbourne for work in December 2013. Since everyone at my work knows how food-obsessed I am, the important decision of where to go for dinner would invariably fall to me, which, of course, did not bother me the slightest. And because we stayed at the Crown Promenade, I thought it would be a great opportunity to check out some of the nice restaurants in the Crown Complex.

Rosetta
Rosetta Ristorante is Neil Perry's first foray into Italian cuisine. Judging by how well he has executed Chinese cuisine at Spice Temple, you wouldn't expect anything less from Neil Perry at Rosetta. And of course Rosetta has achieved 2-hat status in The Age Good Food Guide despite only been opened since October 2012.          
   

Bar area
Like all his other restaurants, Neil Perry has put a lot of thought into the way the restaurant would be fitted out. The place is quite spacious as it can seat up to 200 diners inside and outside the restaurant by the Yarra. The dining room is elegant and sophisticated. The domed ceilings have glass chandeliers from Murano hanging down. The room is bright with lots of natural light coming in (in complete contrast to the dark, almost non-existent lighting at Spice Temple). I really liked the ambience at Rosetta; despite the luxe fit out, it felt relaxed and the service staff were friendly.
 
Glass chandeliers from Murano

The menu: Yellow is the theme at Rosetta
The menu at Rosetta is quite lengthy. The first thing that anyone will notice when they peruse the menu is the eye-watering prices. Pastas are $35+ and roasted meats from the wood fire oven are around the $40 - $45 mark. But of course you have to try both of these as they are the house specialty and as you will see, I found both to be quite superb. My colleagues and I both passed on anti pasti, crudi and caparcci and stuck with tap water due to these prices. Any way, I opted for a 3 course meal whilst my colleagues went for a 2 course meal. We also shared a side salad.  
  
Bread

Grissini bread sticks
To start off the meal, we snacked on some grissini bread sticks, those pencil-thin sticks of crisp, dry bread commonly served in restaurants in Italy. 
 
Bread and extra virgin olive oil
Not long after the bread sticks, we were served bread with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt for dipping. The olive oil was very good quality and had a great, robust flavour.

Entree 

Tagliarini Neri with warm spanner crab, fresh chilli and lemon zest ($35)
My entree was a squid ink pasta with spanner crab. This house made pasta was of excellent quality and was as good as a lot of the pastas that I have tried in Italy. It was cooked al dente  and I loved the springy texture of the pasta. Sharing the plate with the squid ink pasta was a generous serving of spanner crab. I adored the flavours of the crab: sweet and delicate crab meat, zesty with bursts of heat and spice from fresh chillis.       
   
Main

Volatili Wood fire roasted chicken with panzanella salad ($39)
For mains, I had the wood fire roasted chicken. The serving was half a chicken, so it was quite a generous portion.  For such a simple looking dish, this dish certainly delivered. This was a twice cooked chicken: confited first and then finished in the wood fire oven. I was a little aprehensive about ordering chicken at first for fear the wood fire oven would dry out the chicken, but I had nothing to worry about. The flesh was moist and succulent; the skin was crisp. And chicken was damn tasty as it was very well seasoned! 

The chicken was also served with a panzanella salad. This was a pleasant little salad with the chunks of bread soaking up the wonderful flavours from the tomatoes and olive oil and topped with basil.        
 
Arancio e Nocciola Green bean, orange and hazelnut salad ($10)
We needed some vegetables so we decided to order the arancio e nocciola. This was an excellent salad. I loved the vibrant colours in this salad. There was some really good combination of fresh flavours. The vinaigrette was well balanced and went very well with the crisp green beans, the oranges and the hazelnuts.    
 
Dessert

Torrone al Cioccolato Frozen chocolate, peanut and coconut semi freddo ($21)
For dessert I decided to have the chocolate torrone, which I had already decided on before even setting foot into the restaurant as I had heard others rave about it. And for good reason to! The base is a disc of frozen chocolate, inside is a peanut ice cream, coated with toasted coconut. YUM! The torrone sat in a pool of devilishly addictive creme anglaise. I reckon I could just drink cartons of this. If only they served this dessert with a pitcher filled with that creme anglaise, so I could pour more of it onto the torrone :)       

Inside the Torrone al Cioccolato
I was very impressed by Rosetta Ristorante. But I guess that is to be expected given the high standard that Neil Perry has set with his other offerings. Here's hoping that Neil Perry rolls out the Rosetta format to Sydney so I don't have to fly down to Melbourne to eat here again.  

Verdict
Highlight: Trying to decide whether I was more impressed with the quality of the house made pastas or the meats out of the wood fire oven. 
Lowlight: Eating here is pricey experience. A three course meal could easily set you back $100.
Overall: Neil Perry's first foray into Italian cuisine is a big hit. The food is simple and uncomplicated, uses top quality ingredients and above all, the food tastes great. But of course this comes at a price. 8/10 (Excellent)   

Rosetta Ristorante
Address: Crown Complex, 8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC
Contact no: 03 8648 1999
Websitehttp://www.rosettaristorante.com/ 

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