Pasta perfection

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - Graeme Phillips

IT’S fas­ci­nat­ing the way dif­fer­ent waves of mi­gra­tion have in­flu­enced Aus­tralia’s eat­ing habits. Food his­to­ri­ans of­ten credit the post Sec­ond World War in­flux of mi­grants from south­ern Europe as in­tro­duc­ing the big­gest change. But chop suey came long be­fore piz­zas in al­most ev­ery city and town in the coun­try and Ho­bart still has a few Chi­nese left­overs from those days. Sub­se­quently, pizza reigned supreme. Thirty years ago, Ho­bart’s first and only In­dian restau­rant lasted but a few months. Then Gur Petab’s in Bat­tery Point hung on for a few years be­fore, in a sign of the times, be­com­ing Ris­torante Da An­gelo, still one of the best and most pop­u­lar Ital­ians in town.

How­ever, as piz­zas to­day have gone main­stream and gourmet, In­dian has made a come­back and we seem to be eat­ing as many naans and vin­daloos as we do fo­cac­cia and margher­i­tas.

Plus Orizuru and Vanidols are both into their third decade of trad­ing and, as mi­gra­tion con­tin­ues to bring with it new culi­nary in­flu­ences, if you count the num­ber of Asian eater­ies gen­er­ally, from the cheap and cheer­fuls up to Me Wah’s so­phis­ti­cated and re­fined Can­tonese, it would ap­pear that pan- Asian flavours are chal­leng­ing Ital­ian for top spot in Ho­bart’s pop­u­lar palate.

But, if cur­rent Amer­i­can and Bri­tish ex­pe­ri­ences are any guide, our next ma­jor culi­nary trend could be due, not to mi­gra­tion, but to a cook book.

Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi’s and Sami Tamimi’s book Jerusalem, for which for­mer Ho­bart chef Sarah Stephens cooked and styled all the pho­tographed dishes, has proved a pub­lish­ing phe­nom­e­non in both coun­tries, set­ting block­buster sales records, spawn­ing ded­i­cated cook­ing clubs, par­ties and blogs and, of course, lead­ing many chefs to in­tro­duce the book’s ex­cit­ing and vividly spiced amal­gam of Jewish and Pales­tinian flavours to their menus. Will it hap­pen here? Such were my mus­ings as I fin­ished an ex­cel­lent din­ner with those most Ital­ian of Ital­ian num­bers a de­li­cious tiramisu and a good, strong cof­fee at Amici.

Busi­ness part­ners Brooke Tsaki­rakis and Luigi Sorgi opened Amici in March 2012. Both have been in hos­pi­tal­ity all their lives – Brooke started wait­ress­ing at Syd­ney’s famed Doyles Restau­rant when she was 21 be­fore fin­ish­ing as busi­ness de­vel­op­ment man­ager at the Grand Chan­cel­lor, while Luigi started a hot dog stand in Moonah when he was 15 and sub­se­quently dropped ac­coun­tancy stud­ies for cook­ing.

Was it their long ex­pe­ri­ence, I asked, that ac­counted for their suc­cess on a cor­ner in North Ho­bart that had seen a long string of pre­vi­ous fail­ured eater­ies? “What we’ve learnt,” said Luigi, “is that what­ever you do in this game, you have to do well”. And that’s pre­cisely what they do at Amici. Their gar­lic bread is the crispest, most flavour­some since that at the old Con­cetta’s; the piz­zas are as good as the best in town; an osso bucco was beau­ti­fully flavoured and came with that es­sen­tial lift­ing and rich­ness- cut­ting sprin­kle of gre­mo­lata; the ser­vice was smi­ley and spot- on; they’ve built a re­tractable per­gola in the lovely back gar­den for all- weather al fresco and group din­ing; the pasta is very good and their Masala- soaked tiramisu even bet­ter.

It’s all top notch in fact, and very busy, and I re­gret not hav­ing vis­ited and eaten there ear­lier and more of­ten.

And, talk­ing of Ital­ian and North Ho­bart, it sad­dens me to re­port that Pic­colo has closed with a sign on the door say­ing they’ll re­open in Spring with a new ven­ture.

En­trees $ 12 to $ 15; patsa, pizza and mains $ 15 to $ 34; desserts $ 8 to $ 11; BYO cork­age $ 5.

FULL PLATE: Amici own­ers Brooke Tsaki­rakis, left, and Luigi Sorgi with chef Shane Roock­ley.

Pic­ture: SAM ROSE­WARNE

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