Sicilian Toastie and Margherita Pizza, The Italian Corner, William Street

I spend way too much on lunch.

Every day I consider going on a diet of Vegemite sangers and Robert Timm’s instant coffee. I also promptly tergiversate on the idea when faced with lunch break and ever-present possibility of happiness being just around the corner.

I also spend way too much on coffees.

I once had a particularly bad streak of buying coffee each morning. I then decided, pledging to make better decisions, that I should probably put a stop to the daylight robberies. 

The first day without my morning coffee, I gained a full appreciation of this quote, commonly but mistakenly attributed to Michael​ Jordan: ‘You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.’ It was 100% a difficult morning. Sans magical concoction, the withdrawal symptoms began. Said symptoms were notoriously mild, in the scheme of things and given the substance in question: I ate a Cherry Ripe—an unwise choice of appetite suppressant that at best satisfied the wrong craving—following which, I made up a sachet of Moccona’s Peppermint Choc Bliss—which, admittedly, proved to be a substitute relative in deliciousness and enjoyment.

Taking things out of context, the sporting origin of this quote has me wondering about the existence of possible deeper meanings behind it. Dope, just unintended double-entendre. 

Here’s what I had for lunch on Thursday and Friday this week. I decided I’d frequent the new, well fairly new, place The Italian Corner.

I went for the Sicilian Toastie, ‘prosciutto, fresh tomato, bocconcini’, $7.50 and the Margherita Pizza ‘mozarella, semi-mature cheese, fresh basil’, also $7.50. How good do they look?

The toastie had a lot going for it. 

It had melty, stringy cheesiness, which I ate all the while mindful of the ease with which I might grow a cheese beard. It had saltiness from the prosciutto and freshness from the self-described ‘fresh’ tomato. It had sufficient crustiness and grillege, an imaginary word which here seems proper and conducive to communicating the requisite grilledness this toasty exhibited. As my one-thirty pm late lunch, it was a well-primed and served lunchbox of happiness.

The pizza, too, was a satisfactory option. The pizza featured a non-floury base of mid-range thickness, with a profusely gooey cheese sitting amidst a moderate backing of tomato sauce that had the slightest detection of onion. It was a stroll through the park on a day with the sun shining and the smell of spring in the air. The limited topping of spinach acted as a garnish on the already-satisactory pizza. I enjoyed it.

Which reigns supreme: the toastie or the pizza? I conclude the result of this cheesy conundrum a confused ‘currently inconclusive’. A determination will demand further visitations.

As an observation, pizzas, coffees and ice-cream earn you a punch on the loyalty card. No love for the toastie.

Taste verdict Classic lunchtime fare. I’m a great fan of cheesy things.

⭐⭐⭐

3 Courses (Gnocchi, Beef Steak, Pannacotta) at Amano Restaurant, Elizabeth Quay

This was an experience I’m going to remember for a long time yet. Like a Myer sale, it scarred the hip pocket. The invitation to treat was the devil’s work. The devil’s got a good knack for enticing people to eat things. Eve, after today I totally get it. Apple of your eye, it appeared didn’t it? I get it. Thankfully, unlike a Myer sale, the pleasure measured up to its cost. Well, in tasty kilojoules. The Mother’s Day outing that I’d planned a week prior, triumphed at bagsying a table, and been hinting at all week, had come through with flying colours. The food was delicious. The location on the Quay was just fantastic. Mother’s Day was made amazing. On another note, I am also now the favourite child.

Amano Restaurant does Italian and Modern Australian cuisine. The four of us each took something different and between us covered a fair bit of their menu.

Being an Italian place, trying pasta dishes was a must.

I went the Gnocchi Giardino for $29 ‘served with aged parmesan, pecorina, ricotta, salata, pea puree, sugar snap, basil cured tomato petals’. Delicate, soft cylinders had been lifted from a sauce, that had kept them moist and flavourful, and mixed through the garden of greens. Not being a fan of a pungent cheese smell I was slightly apprehensive about the addition of parmesan. Any notion of the former was promptly eviscerated on tucking into this dish. This was light and fresh, creative and clean. It made sense.

The parents had good feedback about the squid ink tortellini and seafood fettuccine. The brother’s lamb papadelle won best entree. Served steaming, it was packed full of flavour. The bit I tasted gave me a pang of food envy.

For main course, I took the Bistecca Al Ferri for $42, ‘wagyu beef chargrilled served with potato fondant, pumpkin puree, wild fungi, fermented garlic jus’. It was a highbrow, cheffy take on the classic steak and mash. The beef was tender and perfectly rare as ordered. The barbeque-y notes from its chargrilled exterior added sophistication. The potato fondant was smooth and buttery. The wild fungi was an interesting, thin-textured element that melded into the other items on the plate. The dish was a thoughtful, clever reinvention.

Our table’s other mains, lamb shank, kangaroo loin, and pork belly, were mostly received well. Our waiter had made specific mention of the pork belly’s crispy skin; it was not crispy. Disappointing, and of the dishes, the least impressive today.

The third course was a pannacotta ‘served with summer berry coulis, Persian fairy floss and sorbet’ for $14. The pannacotta was creamy and and the sorbet refreshingly sour. The fairy floss was a smart textural element that also introduced a mild sweetness to the dessert. This, the sorbetto and the affogato we ordered were a fitting finish to lunch.

One and a quarter hours after the feasting had begun, we departed satiated and very satisfied. The food had been great. Hidden gem you are now just a gem, fortunately.

Taste verdict Dining that was perfect for Mothers Day.

⭐⭐⭐⭐