Latteria, the newest offering from Beppe De Vito (of Il Lido and Forlino fame), has moved into the Duxton Hill shophouse of failed Brit gastro pub The Jackson Plan. It’s been given a sleek and tasteful makeover that has put an end to the stark green and white concrete walls of its previous incarnation. In their place are soft lighting and warm décor, plus a large secluded outdoor patio.
Heavenly burrata, sweet peppers peperonata ($30) arrives with just the right amount of resilience to its soft and creamy centre to make discerning taste buds surrender. The stringy bocconcini in carrrozza, arrabbiata ($20), constrained by a crusty shell, has a spicy sauce that tingles pleasantly on the tongue. Perfectly al dente linguine vongole and porcini ($30) and roasted whole seabream ($35) are very filling, yet moreish. The Sicilian cannoli ($10) and tipsy tiramisu cup ($15) are worth saving room for – I failed miserably, but I was really there for the cheese!
You’ll love it if: You’re a mouse or you appreciate artisanal mozzarellas and reasonably priced wine.
You’ll hate it if: You’re lactose intolerant.
Must-try dish: burrata, sweet peppers peperonata ($30).
As a fan of Japanese cuisine, I was excited to dine at Sushi Ichi, a one-Michelin-starred restaurant hailing from Ginza in Tokyo. We were presented with a one-page menu featuring only kaiseki , a multi-course meal consisting of assorted sashimi and sushi, miso soups and dessert.Sushi Ichi serves only seafood imported straight from the Tsukiji market in Japan.
Chef Yabe skilfully sliced all sorts of seafood before serving the sashimi and nigiri sushi one by one. He recommended the best way to eat each dish: dipped in soy sauce or with salt and sudachi (Japanese lime). My favourite: blanched jumbo shrimp sushi, succulent and absolutely delicious.
There’s probably no better place than here to try uni (sea urchin roe) for the first time. Served on a bed of rice in a teacup, the fattiness of this delicacy blended well with the crunchy bits of salmon caviar and was good washed down with ocha (Japanese green tea).
Sushi Ichi’s degustation menu ranges from four to eight courses ($60-$450) and special dietary requests can be accommodated. The price tag may sound hefty, but this is a unique, authentic and bespoke Japanese dining experience.
You’ll love it if: You are a die-hard fan of Japanese food and love raw seafood.
You’ll hate it if: You don’t eat raw seafood.
Must-try dish: Sea urchin and salmon egg with soy sauce and yuzu.
Steak perfection is the lofty aim of new restaurant Bistecca. Using high quality ingredients, native Tuscan chef Francesco Mansani has succeeded in something that many other restaurants here have been unable to achieve.
It takes us about 15 minutes to decide what to eat because the menu is full of fabulous, authentic Tuscan dishes. The intuitive waiter gives us time, and then more time, until my companion, a meat lover raised on a cattle farm, opts for the Australian Wagyu fillet (250g tenderloin, thick cut, $58). Equally indecisive, I try the chef’s favourite: homemade pork sausage in a tomato herb sauce with cannellini beans ($25). Both meats pair beautifully with sides of asparagus in lemon oil ($14), mushrooms in thyme ($12) and sinful but sublime potatoes cooked in duck fat ($10).
For dessert, the chef produces a one-off salted caramel tart with gelato ($6). We share this with a light and luscious version of the iconic tiramisu ($12) and a glass of sweet Italian Pio Cesare moscato ($14).
Housed in a renovated shophouse, Bistecca is decorated in modern Tuscan style with a bovine theme – cow hides adorn the floor and antler chandeliers shed light – but it’s not kitsch in the slightest. From start to finish, Bistecca is all class and a must to visit.
You’ll love it if: You’re keen on modern Italian food. A weekend roast lunch is also on offer.
You’ll hate it if: Not possible – this restaurant is divine.
Must-try dish: The Wagyu beef served with two sauces.
La Luna Rossa (closed)
6636 2951| www.laluna-rossa.com
This smart, clean-cut replica of the Tokyo original offers Italian cuisine with an interesting Japanese touch. For starters, the simple dish of tonno tartar ($28) is made stunning by a wasabi dressing that adds a fiery buzz to complement the ripe avocado and fresh raw tuna.
Primi recommendations include the ricci di mare ($38) – perfectly cooked spaghettini in a sultry, creamy tomato sauce with tiny bites of sea urchin adding a taste of the sea. Secondi dishes seem less “fusion”. The rossini ($65) is a delicious, melt-in-the-mouth roasted Wagyu beef with seared foie gras and black truffle served with potato dauphinoise.
For traditionalists, there is a creamy, mascarpone-rich tiramisu ($14) for dessert; or you could try the Japanese fusion matcha crème brûlée ($14) and you won’t be disappointed – one of the most interesting versions of this classic, with green tea crème and a dappling of browned sugar topped with a beautifully refreshing green tea gelato.
You’ll love it if: You’re on the lookout for fine dining with interesting Italian-Japanese flavours.