“What is that?” I ask a waitress at Osteria Ilaria as she arrives to take our dessert order.
I’m sitting at the timber bar, eyeing every dish that emerges from the kitchen. It looks like cheesecake, but it’s not on the dessert menu. She explains it’s a savoury pecorino cheesecake with pistachio pesto and celeriac crisps. “One of those, please,” I say, “and then the olive oil chocolate mousse.”
- 367 Little Bourke Street, city, 9642 2287
Unlike Tipo 00, it’s older sibling next door, Ilaria does not have pasta as its hero. But the black truffle tortellini filled with almost sensual porcini puts a strong case for the alternative, ditto the oversized al dente paccheri tubes with Crystal Bay prawns and sorrel-spiked sugo.
Don’t leave without eating whole baby octopus tentacles charred yakitori-style and served with spicy Calabrian ’nduja, or deboned whole whiting scattered with pippies and tiny sea succulents.
Can’t get a booking? Swing by at 5pm for an aperitivo of tonic, white port and dark rum spritz and nibble on meaty pork liver sausage or grilled baby calamari.
Warm lighting, leather and wood evoke a sophisticated Italian bistro with intuitive service.
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