Aperi·tivo (ä per i tē′vō) meaning “pick-me-up” in Italian. It is also the name of a good looking Italian wine bar and restaurant in the heart of the Italian Village, Leichhardt.
Curious about the name, I did some research and found that In Italy, people drink a light alcoholic beverage called ‘aperitiv’ and share tasting plates amongst friends or love ones as a relaxing prelude to dinner. The small serving designed to encourage conversation because people aren’t so focused upon eating an entire meal set before them. Guess you can safely say that Aperitivo is like an Italian version of Tapas.
Anyway, we went to Aperitivo one Friday night and had the special 8 course Mediterranean feast for 2 using a scoopon voucher. After the experience I dare say that it was the best scoopon dinner deal I’ve had so far. Despite the small serving size, we walked out feeling full and satisfied.
The first dish we had was beetroot gazpacho with gorgonzola semifreddo. Gazpacho is basically cold soup. It was rather interesting and new for my palate. I could taste mild beetroot flavour but the soup did not have any distinct sweet or salty flavour and had to be eaten with the sweet gorgonzola semifreddo for it to be enjoyable. I didn’t mind it but I saw many plates collected unfinished.
The second dish was Garlic Pizza. We were won over by the thin crust and the wood-fired aroma. Loved the strong and salty garlic flavour. Such a great transition from the almost non-descript flavour of the beetroot gazpacho.
Third dish was Lamb and Chorizo skewers with tomato and basil salsa. Succulent lamb and chorizo makes a perfect combo. The flavour of the meat was clean and simple (grilled and lightly season) with the slightly sweet and tangy basil salsa adding to the flavour. I was impressed by the thoughtful presentation of having the skewers with the sharp end cut off. It’s the little things that counts and it’s nice to have felt well….thought of.
The next dish we had was Calamari filled with spinach and ricotta on a pea puree. Wow, it was a taste sensation. The calamari was so tender with nice charred flavour, the filling was creamy and luxurious without being too rich and the pea puree and watercress garnish, well they were just like the icing on the cake, you get the idea.
How many dishes are we up to now? I lost count…hmm I wanted some more calamari….
Oh yes salad, a nice intermezzo. Zucchini, fennel and red cabbage dressed with soprafino vinegar with pecorino cheese & cocoa powder. Hmmm, an interesting salad. I liked the vinaigrette, it has a strong tang flavour. The fennel was quite prominent in this dish and I think I could do with a bit more dressing to overcome the strong flavour of fennel, I still can’t eat raw fennel without lots of dressing like I can’t eat raw celery without heaps and heaps of dips. I liked how the cheese was presented in two long overlapping thin slices. Again, I wouldn’t mind getting some more of the cheese but loved it regardless…made me feel healthy just eating it.
Next up, Twice-cooked beef cheek with chickpea and leek ragu. Super tender and melt-in-your-mouth beef with thick ragu sauce. The chickpeas were great, perfectly cooked and flavoursome they could even be a star on their own.
Leaving the best for last, Lavender risotto with crispy skin rock perch. They sure know how to make a great risotto. It was sensational! If you ever had bad risotto before you tend to be a bit cautious like me when having your first spoonful. You’re kind of wishing for the best but anticipating the worst. And I was pleasantly surprised. This is a very good risotto. Creamy, buttery, soft but slightly chewy, comfort food at its best. That and the buttery crispy skin fish cooked to perfection….food of the Gods. Definitely the star of the night.
A little garnish makes all the difference. That certainly rings true here. Watercress was used to garnish all the savoury dishes and I think it had worked extremely well. I could be biased since I am a huge fan of watercress. They’re so pretty to look at and I love their sharp and peppery taste.
Just in case And for desert we were served Italian donuts with nutella fondue. Pure indulgence. Need I say more?
I was very impressed with their extensive wine selection. You can choose the wine by the taste (75ml), glass (150ml) or carafe (375ml). I tried one of the Italian Rosso (i.e., Italian Red) 07 Nebbiolo Piemonte and it was quite nice. Good drinking, pretty simple non complex flavour with some sort of fruity aroma and good tannins.
Overall, a fantastic and memorable experience. Can’t wait to visit this place again.