Situated along the bustling Pitt Street, just five minutes from Wynyard Station, Jamie’s Italian could be easily missed as you are swept along by the thick crowds of office workers who swiftly make their way home or on to one of Sydney’s city bars and restaurants.
It’s Friday night and the streets are particularly brimming with activity as I make my way through the glass door entrance to Jamie’s Italian. Ideally, it’s best to book in advance if you want a table at a particular time, but luckily for us, Jamie’s does take walk-ins and keeps a few tables aside for those who casually stop by.
Spanning across two levels within this industrial style building, which once was a live music venue, I am greeted by a waitress on arrival and shortly make my way up the wide metal staircase where I meet my boyfriend who has already secured a table in what I feel is a prime spot.
Sat by the balcony, I can watch diners below coming and going, whilst to my left is the Antipasto bar where the tempting Cured Meats or Seasonal Vegetable Planks and entrees are pieced together and we can even watch the chefs busy at work. Overhanging with giant bulbs of garlic and streams of chilli, fresh ingredients abound making me imagine I am in a farmhouse with ingredients freshly picked by hand.
This was my first time at Jamie’s Italian in Sydney, but I have previously dined at a Jamie’s back in the UK where one of the restaurants was located within an old courthouse and still retained the Juror’s seats and Judge’s seat which you could sit at. This Jamie’s was no different and oozed with character and charm. Downstairs, diners can sit on the plush red long couch or on the metal green or maroon coloured chairs, that are arranged along a tight long corridor, providing a more tight-knit, yet intimate feel. Upstairs, the mezzanine level opens out to more space, but there are walls covered in graffiti – typical of Jamie’s style, with standout chalk blackboard specials.
We were presented with menus by our friendly waitress and she also went through the daily specials with us, whilst crouching down, creating a more casual and personal vibe. Truffle was the main focus due to being the height of Truffle season, whilst the main menu comprised of beautiful sounding pastas, delicate fish dishes and hearty, yet rustic meat dishes including Chicken Cacciatore, Genarro’s Famous Porchetta and Aged Hanger Steak. You could also choose from a selection of salads and breads, whilst kids are also well catered for with a fun Kid’s Menu.
What immediately caught my eye was the Meatball Pappardelle (Free-range pork & fennel meatballs in a fiery ‘nduja tomato sauce with herby breadcrumbs & Parmesan). The fiery tomato sauce is what sold it for me as I do love a bit of heat in my food. We also decided to share the Crispy Squid for entrée, as Australia does do pretty amazing squid and we can’t get enough of it!
Food didn’t take long to come out and as we waited the restaurant was already filling up and conversation filling the air. The Crispy Squid was a good portion size and beautifully tender and crunchy on the outside. This was served with garlic and lemon mayo, chilli, parsley and fried garlic. The fried garlic was actually a welcome delight – wafer thin, crunchy pieces of garlic heaven. Needless to say we gobbled this all up pretty quickly.
Soon after this, our mains arrived at our table and both pasta dishes looked stunning. I was so glad I ordered my meatball dish as this not only looked incredible, but it was bursting with flavour. The pork meatballs were succulent with hints of fennel running through, whilst there was plenty of tomato sauce and a good kick of heat coming through. The pasta was perfectly al dente and our waitress brought out some extra parmesan cheese and pepper for even more flavour.
Once we cleared our plates once again we thought we might as well order dessert and shared the Epic Brownie for $12.90 (Warm fudgy brownie with vanilla ice cream & caramelised amaretti popcorn). I only had a few spoonfuls of this chocolate brownie as it was too gooey for my liking, but the vanilla ice cream was a delight. I would say dessert was my least favourite part of the meal.
Overall, Jamie’s Italian is an affordable restaurant that serves hearty and delicious Italian food. Potion sizes are good and service is friendly. By the time we left, the restaurant was pretty much full and you’d find it hard to get a table.
With a strong focus on using sustainable food and fresh ingredients, Jamie’s Italian is one restaurant in Sydney you should not miss out when searching for a more affordable city restaurant with character and charm.