Neil Perry has spent a fair amount of capital to design and retrofit Rosetta. It is now one of my favourite places in Melbourne when I think about ambiance. It is a very smart fit-out where the red lounge backs encourage you to order more, the subtly patterned carpet makes you want to eat more and the enthusiastic and very professional staff make you want to drink more. Given that I visited Rosetta on its opening night, I felt that the place had been open and succeeding for years. That is the Perry formula once again delivering for all of us in Melbourne. Seeing him in the restaurant and doing what he does best makes me want to have him as a permanent fixture in Victoria.
Proceedings commenced with cocktails followed by Riccoila de Pacifico (Hiramasa kingfish, capers, tomato and chilli) ($26) and the Insalata di Mare (Seafood salad) ($35) which was a cold yet vibrant way to start tasting the gamut of dishes matched with the 2011 Jankarra Verminino from the south of Italy. I must admit, that I have never fully appreciated food from this region however starting this way left me longing for more. After consulting with the sommelier who is ex-Waiting room (The Waiting Room has since matriculated peacefully from the Neil Perry empire to Crown) I knew this was going to be a long-haul experience for appreciating everything that Neil and Italy had on offer. I was not disappointed.
The Ricotta Fresca ($16) followed and I have to say it was the best bloody Ricotta that I have ever had. It continued to successfully pair with the 2011 Jankarra Werminino whilst the service remained extremely professional and cheerful. Throughout the night we would be serviced by three people, 90% by the primary server, Mario, who was one of the most professional servers that I have encountered in my life. I appreciated the fact that he introduced himself when he greeted us, shook our hands and appreciated us as gentlemen and remained patient if not amused whilst we slurped wine and ordered across the menu like a drunken sailor shooting arrows at a dugong. The art of service introducing themselves I thought was long-gone but Neil Perry has resurrected this concept and for that I am pleased if not grateful.
Lobster roasted tomato, mint and chilli Fettuccine ($65) was ordered next and matched with a 2010 Terre Metre Nerello Mascalese... a Rose of all things. Such a brilliant pairing that it made me giddy. Poor jokes were then told. I offended the people around me and they left as I was so boisterous and happy. I don't think my neighbours were big tippers because our server Mario did not seem phased and more interested in taking care of our hedonistic needs. I apologise to them now for making too much noise and being too happy.
We reverted back to Antipasti and had a very tasty Brasato di Tonno (Braised tuna with green peppers and farro) ($29) and I found the way the kitchen used the peppers with the fresh tuna a cheeky and absolutely perfect compliment. This is not spicy or Mexican food per se, but it is a chilli extenuating tuna. It is hard to describe but it is something worth trying. You will not regret it.
Meatballs then had to be ordered en lieu of dessert. The Polpette al forne (Meat Balls oven baked in a tomato sauce) ($19) was finally ordered. This is when I used blasphemy and regretted ever visiting Meatball & Wine Bar. No offence to Meatball & Wine Bar but Rosetta's meat balls are simply the most aromatic as I have ever had the pleasure of smelling and as firm as a woman's breast after getting an implant. I could have started and finished with these and have been one happy man regardless of the wine matching, service or ambiance.
My stomach was so engorged at the end of this epicurean journey that I could not bare ordering more and believe me there were heaps of offerings available that I wanted and I still long for whilst writing this. I really can't wait to return and I will leave a trail of saliva from my unit to the Crown and I can only hope that the council will clean up after me since Rosetta is going to make me act irresponsibly and also be my new local since The Waiting Room is now a thing of memories.
I predict that Rosetta will not only get at least two hats in the next Age Good Food Guide 2013/2014 but I will be so bold to predict that Rosetta will win "Best New Restaurant" - Neil has another winner and I am so happy he has another restaurant in Melbourne now for all of us to enjoy.
Link to review
8 Whiteman Street Southbank VIC 3006
My Rating: 16.5/20
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Comment: Best Italian food in Melbourne
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
When I made this post originally, 100% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon also liked Rosetta. I am not surprised why. A small sample though...