If you’re heading to Leichhardt and thinking of going to the Italian Forum for some good Italian food… Don’t. Just keep driving.
That’s right, keep the motor running, zoom past the Forum and cruise down Norton street until you arrive at 163. It’s on the right hand side.
Congratulations, you have found Aperitivo.
Sorry to be so blunt about where to go to eat, but experienced travellers will always warn you to never eat on the square. European cities, like Italy, are notorious for having gorgeous alfresco dining areas with bustling restaurants where the food is absolutely terrible and over-priced to boot!
If you’re smart, then you know to trawl the back streets until your legs are sore and you’ve almost worn a hole in your shoe, because only then will you find a culinary gem that will deliver on taste, service and price. With memories to last you a lifetime.
Don’t be fooled like a tourist in your own city. Be adventurous the next time you visit Leichhardt and give Aperitivo a whirl. Here are some good reasons why…
Calamari Ripieni $8 per piece.
Reason #1. The food is brilliant. The chef-y show-off stuff is good value (and decent portions!) and the rustic, homely food is even better value.
Take these calamari for example; they are part of the stuzzichini (Italian style tapas) section of the menu and although they might seem fiddly at first, they are actually really satisfying. The calamari are filled with creamy ricotta and spinach and served on an intensely flavoured pea puree.
I politely ate them with a knife and fork but could easily have got stuck in with my hands but #nobodywantstoseethat.
Mare Montagna $17.
Reason #2. The owner is lovely and passionate about Italian food and wine. And it shows. He enthusiastically spoke about sourcing the best ingredients and seeking out beautiful Italian wines and we reminisced with him about our fantastic time in Italy in 2009. You may not be able to chat with him on your visit but you will feel the passion via the food and atmosphere.
The Mare Montagna is also part of stuzzichini section of the menu. The chunks of slow cooked pork belly were both soft and crispy and topped with well cooked and season grilled prawns. The smears of carrot puree were flavoured with aniseed and was so good I wished I could order a whole bowl on its own.
Apologies in advance for the next two photos. The natural light was fading and Poppy was getting grizzly so the crappy shots are a combination of rushing and not using a flash. Don’t let it stop you from trying these next two delicious dishes though.
Pappardelle (Duck sausages) $23 (Special of the day).
Reason #3. Award winning pizza chef from Italy. This guy makes the most amazing Neapolitan style pizzas; fluffy and doughy around the edges and wet and luscious in the centre. And well worth a trip to Aperitivo to eat these exclusively.
The pizza in the first shot above is Margherita Bufala $24. I got the tip-off to order this from Becca on Twitter and it certainly lived up to expectations. Fresh tomato sauce (no nasty leggo’s puree here!), buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato and basil sit together in glorious harmony. I can’t wait to go back and try the rest of the pizzas. Perhaps without bub so I can have a few glasses of wine!
The duck pappardelle was a special of the day and was very special indeed. The pappardelle pasta was made fresh that day in house (like all their pasta) and was cooked perfectly al dente. I am a sucker for fresh pasta, especially served simply like this with a few key ingredients, including properly roasted tomatoes.
Risotto $27 (Special of the day).
I never order risotto in restaurants because I am always disappointed and I don’t make it at home for the same reason. I think it has been almost 10 years since my last bowl. So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself fighting hubby for the last spoonful!
This was another special of the day and was ordered specifically because I was intrigued by the use of Acquerello rice which is part of the carnaroli rice family and is aged for one year. It was served with seared scallops and yellow zucchini and was the most beautiful creamy texture, cooked perfectly al dente. I think I will try to make risotto at home now that I have a texture bench mark to aspire to!
I have given you just three good reasons to visit Aperitivo, but trust me, you’ll find so many more. My only regret is that I was far too full to try any of the desserts but I have got my eye on the Nutella Ravioli for my next visit. If you get there first, let me know what it’s like!
Fig & Cherry dined as guests of Aperitivo with special thanks to Wasamedia.