04 Jan Sarti, Melbourne CBD
Bright red neon lighting make it pretty hard to miss the entrance to Sarti – a necessity given its location in a laneway off Bourke St. Walking through the otherwise understated facade and up the stairs, we enter one of Melbourne’s favourites to treat ourselves to Sarti’s modern Italian cuisine. Its slick dining room is dark inside, though somewhat disappointingly, the hard floors made soundwaves bounce around a bit like a ball in Pong. There is a terrace to enjoy the sun, and it would likely be quieter outside, but today is a little too breezy for that.
We’re surprised by the variety of seafood in the fritto misto. Fresh calamari, soft shell crab, school prawns, baby octopus and whitebait are lightly floured and fried until crispy, and the chilli tartare is just perfect for them.
I choose the zucchini flowers as my entree, which are filled with baccala mantecato, or whipped salt cod. The cod helps the zucchini flowers stand out amongst others which often just have cheese. It is a very subtle flavour though, and I personally prefer something more punchy…
…like A2’s Carre d’Agnello. The serving size of the lamb is surprisingly generous for the price when compared to the other options. Cooked medium rare, the lamb is coated in crushed pistachio. Tasty and satisfying, this is our favourite of the starters.
Moving onto mains, and mum’s ocean trout is perfectly cooked. The fennel and orange providing some lift to the rich fish, and the pea puree and clams contribute some umami to each mouthful.
The chef’s recommendation for dad’s wagyu is a medium, presumably to help render some of the fat in the rich meat. Despite how it may appear, what results is a melt-in-your-mouth texture, with the beautiful charred flavour of the burnt eggplant, baby leek and rainbow chard complementing the caramelisation on the surface of the beef.
Oh my. This is definitely one of the best pastas I’ve had in recent memory. Both A2 and I are attracted by description of the Spaghetti alla Chitarra on paper, and it certainly delivers. A large mound of Blue Swimmer Crab meat and roe are piled on top of the black ink pasta, and the fragrance is saliva-inducing. The spaghetti is perfectly al dente and the flavours are clean. There’s a subtle complexity to the sauce and I love the freshness that the tomato and chilli add to it. It’s a very popular dish at Sarti, and for good reason.
Sarti is said to make one of the best tiramisus in Melbourne so I’m well pleased to find it’s available tonight. A crunchy chocolate wafer separates the saviordi biscuits from the mascarpone, giving us crunchy biscuits rather than soaked ones. A little different, but I enjoy its texture. There’s a pleasantly strong coffee flavour and the mascarpone is not as rich as some other versions, warranting it a thumbs up from me.
The prices are slightly higher than average at Sarti, but the food is sophisticated and delicious and you’re sure to leave with your taste buds satisfied.
6 Russell Pl
Melbourne, VIC, 3000
(03) 9639 7822