Thursday night saw Dylan, Mr O and I pop in to The Carrington for the launch of their new menu. While the food and drinks were flowing it was a rather chaotic party and Mr O suggested we duck over to il baretto for a quiet meal and catch up. Having never been to il baretto before and always having wanted to suss it out Dylan and I readily agreed. Notoriously packed to the rafters, luckily for us we didn’t have to wait too long for a table.
il baretto is somewhat of an institution in Surry Hills and has been so for over 12 years. It’s BYO, menus are handwritten and wine is served in what many would view as water glasses. It’s affordable, authentic Italian. It was about time I dined there.
Beef carpaccio ($16.00).
Following Mr O’s recommendation we started with a plate of beef carpaccio to share. This is what I’m talking about. A plate of fantastically thin slivers of beef, covered in a mound of rocket, shavings of parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil. Meltingly soft and seasoned to a tee the carpaccio was divine, making it hard to hold back and share with everyone. A simple dish made with the best quality ingredients, that’s all you need in life.
Pappardelle with duck ragu ($26.00).
Now if there is one thing I knew about il baretto it was their pappardelle with duck ragu. Decision made. As the dish made its way to the table I could see how large it was from a mile away. This was a seriously generous portion of freshly made, silky pasta doused in ragu. The ragu took me all the way back to Gioia Tauro at the very southern end of Italy’s mainland. True Italian cooking right here in Sydney. Meat sauce peppered with tender pieces of duck, I found there was an endearing game-like quality to the base of the sauce that made the dish what it was. A hearty Italian meal that feels like a big hug.
Risotto with porcini mushrooms ($20.00).
Dylan decided to go a little left field and order a risotto. A plate of carbs is usually the last thing he would order. While pastas and risottos are extremely tasty he nearly always opts for protein, usually in the form of steak. But the porcini mushroom risotto was too good an invitation.
il baretto are far from stingy and the plate of risotto appeared never ending. The potent aroma of porcini mushrooms filled the air. Each grain of rice held its own but were never too firm. A good amount of parmesan ensured the porcini and other accompanying mushrooms were not too dominant. Well executed and very filling.
Homemade beef lasagna ($22.00).
Mr O opted for the lasagna. This was an O-M-G moment if there ever was one. A huge serving of beef lasagna with rich tomato sugo, meaty filling and cheese sauce topped with a sprinkling of parmesan. One of the best lasagnas I have ever eaten, and I’ve eaten a lot of lasagna in my years.
Rocket & Parmesan salad ($9.50).
Who doesn’t love a rocket salad? If you don’t there must be something wrong with you. Peppery leaves, shavings of top quality parmesan and a slick of olive oil. Love it every time. But what I loved about il baretto’s version was the addition of pine nuts, just that little extra without being too fancy. Their addition added a creamy texture and flavour to an all time classic, a real winner.
Naturally we ordered a round of macchiatos to finish. I’m thrilled to report il baretto make a mighty fine macchiato (though I’m sure if we were in Italy we’d be thwarted for ordering anything other than an espresso after noon).
il baretto was everything I hoped it would be and more. This is the kind of place you wish was your local, your go to place whenever you don’t feel like cooking or are craving authentic Italian food.
496 Bourke Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9361 6163
il baretto Website