Sarti Restaurant in the Melbourne CBD is an inspiring hatted Italian restaurant offering a world of cool and sophisticated cuisine. Sarti brings together a compelling fusion of traditional and contemporary. The World Loves Melbourne attended the unveiling of the Sarti winter menu and Sarti.it and we left on a Sarti Italian high. Sarti has been a Melbourne favourite and an Italian restaurant that rises above the pack. Each dish from Head Chef Paulo was presented with imagination, flair and technique in spades.
Sarti offers a sophisticated ambience with modern artistic pieces such as the one above, with great use of timber, artwork on walls, classic dim lighting, sweeping bar with attractive tiles and funky music. The theme of red that underscores the logo is reflected in the restaurant fit out. Service is professional and engaging but not overpowering.
Sarti served up its winter menu and each dish should be applauded. The Mixed Salumi Board was a wonderful way to start with a selection of salumi served with Buffalo mozzarella and gnocchi fritto (look like dumplings but are fried dough). We were impressed with the standard and variety of the salumi, with the high quality prosciutto arresting my taste buds. A board of quality cured meats is always a winner.
The Mozzarella Roll with cured ocean trout, mascarpone, avocado and Avruga caviar was also a hit. Great technique in this dish and presentation superb. Such a delicate dish. The creamy mascarpone held the dish together with welcome infusions of cured ocean trout. By now I was on a cured meat and fish high! The caviar provided superb saltiness and crunch. The avocado was interesting, adding to the creaminess and presentation.
Another dish exhibiting great technique was the Vitello Tonnato with slow poached veal, tuna foam, capers and pickled onion. Veal slow poached and so tender with a delectable tuna foam, displaying finesse from the kitchen. More to the point the tuna foam complemented the rich tender veal both in texture and taste. Again the presentation is first class. The pickled onion was a surprise with acidity cutting through some of the richness. And the capers brought a dimension of the piquant and salty.
Sarti serves up some fresh crusty bread which was a perfect accompaniment. We never underestimate the power of quality bread in an Italian restaurant. Even though the salumi came with the gnocchi fritto I used some of this bread to accomodate the cured meats.
The Fritto Misto was a delicious combination of tender seafood and crunchy batter, featuring calamari, soft shell crab, whitebait, zucchini and chilli tartare. This was the dish of the night for me. Bringing together the best of the sea with seamless skill, dipping the seafood in batter then frying in oil. Fritto Misto is a traditional Italian dish but not only have Sarti cooked it to perfection, but added a modern twist of the chilli tartare.
A hip dining crowd at the Sarti menu unveiling was treated to a surprise performance set from none other than Kate Ceberano.
Sarti also hit the mark with the Rotolo D'Anatra featuring Duck roll pasta with field mushrooms and parmesan. Actually I tell a lie - this was my favourite dish of the night. Presentation had the wow factor with the foam contrasted against the backdrop of the duck roll. Seriously this was just so good with duck roll compact and full of flavour, superb withe mountain of field mushrooms and complement of crusty parmesan.
The Spaghetti Alla Chitarra was a modern twist on traditional spaghetti with black ink pasta, WA blue swimmer crab, fresh tomato, garlic and chilli. I expect this dish will also be a popular one on the Sarti menu. Again the presentation was magnificent. Black ink pasta is trending in Melbourne right now at several Italian restaurants. But the advent of WA blue swimmer crab is refreshing. By now I'm realising these guys can really cook seafood.
Now for Secondi... Agnello 2 Modi pleased with a delightful lamb rack and fillet (right amount of pink), superb pistachio crust and wonderful slippery jacks (delicate mushrooms) and soubise (French onion) puree. Just loved the lamb dusted with pistachio. The slippery jacks were a surprise as the mushrooms of choice but worked so well.
Once again great technique shown with the Il Pesce with silver dory, cauliflower puree with green bean, capsicum pickled red onion salad.
Sarti also excels at Dolci, maintaining the flair and high standard of presentation.
Melbourne does Italian dining well. In a sea of competitors Sarti stands out.