The 24 year old Italian

It’s no secret that I love to eat Italian food. So when it was my turn to pick a Sydney restaurant to celebrate an early Christmas and mark the end of a brilliant year with friends, I drew up a shortlist of ten restaurants of which quite a few were Italian. The criteria was simple…..bloody great food required! From a bit of simple research, reading this and that – this is what I came up with:

1. Sepia

2. La Scala

3. The Devonshire

4. Almond Bar

5. Il Perugino

6. A Tavola

7. Assiette

8. Duke Bistro

9. Sake 

10. Buzo

I questioned do I try somewhere new that has had rave reviews or do I book somewhere tried and true. After some discussion with Mr ELG, I went with the latter.

Numero cinque; Il Perugino

I first went to Il Perugino 11 years ago. Memories of that night are bloody great food, no menus with the waiter telling you what is being served instead and lots of people talking, chatting and simply enjoying their food. Over the years I have been back numerous times and the memory never changes; just the people at my table and the food of course, as the seasons change. Situated on Avenue Road in Mosman, Sydney next door to the drycleaners, Il Perugino has been in the same place for 24 years, run by passionate people who describe the menu to you like poetry. Last night as I was listening to the menu (they did introduce postcard menus a couple of years back but go through the detail all the same), I was salivating from one course to the next and the food wasn’t even in front of me yet. At the next table, a man was devouring a steaming bowl of fresh seafood while his friend had ordered the lamb shank and I watched the meat just melt away from the bone. With Antipasti on the way, this menu had too many choices; a lovely position to be in rather than no inspiration at all.

Teasing the tastebuds, the Antipasti was laid in front of us and did not fail to excite. Button mushrooms, artichoke hearts, mussels, fritters and eggplant swooped in seconds.

Next up for me were the duck, sage and burnt butter crepes. Mr ELG ordered the salmon carpaccio. One word; delicious. Actually two words; magnificently delicious!

As a main, Mr ELG and I ordered the same dish (very rare) and again, from the kitchens of Il Perugino came a marvelous flavour from such simple ingredients; pappardelle, zucchini, garlic, olive oil, parsley and vongole.

We couldn’t not eat dessert and the four of us with no hesitation each ordered a sweetie with the promise to share. The tiramisu was tantalising, the limoncello cheesecake with baked rhubarb and blood orange gelato was so refreshing, the warm apple and walnut cake was comforting and the passion-fruit creme brulee made it hard to share!

As I looked around the room last night on the Tuesday before Christmas, all the tables were full and there were babies, children, young and old enjoying the moorish moments. Il Perugino is a local to be loved and in fact, numero uno in my mind.

Il Perugino @ 171 Avenue Road, Mosman Sydney 2088

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