When you’re Jamie Oliver, you don’t have to try very hard to get the crowds queuing at your restaurant door and Oliver’s first Australian restaurant has managed to sustain its hype amongst foodies, nearly eighteen months after it opened.
Jamie’s Italian, on Pitt Street, takes bookings for dinner at 6.00pm or 8.30pm, but only for groups of 6 or more. For couples and smaller groups, there is a now-accepted expectation that if you want to dine at J.O’s, then you’ve got to work for it – with waiting times fluctuating from anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours. But Jamie’s devotees are not easily deterred, especially when great food and great times are guaranteed to land on your table.
Oliver has built his restaurants with the understanding that there is more to a dining experience than just food. Spread over two levels, his Pitt Street hangout boasts a warehouse chic vibe with exposed metal and concrete walls. It’s dimly lit, yet not so dark that you can’t see your food. There is a constant hum of excitement in the air, especially as it’s absolutely packed, night after night. When you arrive at a place where everybody’s pumped, even on a Monday night, the food becomes an afterthought.
This isn’t to say that the Naked Chef lets his famous antipasti platters or home-made pasta dishes fall by the wayside. It’s just that diners are having such a great time that the impressive menu becomes a bonus. His “fish in the bag” is a must for seafood-lovers, with the cracked wheat-based dish overflowing with mussels, fish and clams. Again, the seaside risotto offers an abundance of aqua-inspired delights, while the wild rabbit tagliolini is a rich and indulgent homage to the land of the boot. The crisp polenta chips with rosemary and parmesan is a must-order, as is the fennel and apple salad. Daily specials keep the regulars interested and a diverse selection of Italian drops and beers work perfectly with Oliver’s rustic Italian fare.
Sure, there are plenty of Sydney restaurants that offer delicious food and great service. But Jamie’s Italian guarantees an element that they don’t award Chef Hats for – and that’s damn good fun.
Read more about Jamie’s Italian here