Osteria di Russo & Russo
You’re sitting in front of a ragu with semolina gnocchi, kangaroo tail, Romanesco and walnuts. Someone asks if you’d like extra truffle with that. A minute later, a waiter is holding a grater and hefty chunk of fresh truffle. The next minute your ragu is drowned in two centimetres of fresh Australian black truffles.
This isn’t an everyday Osteria Russo & Russo experience. But nothing is: the dishes, ingredients and experimentations change every day. But it is a perfect description of what the restaurant does – Italian flavours, local produce and a strict adherence to the seasonality and condition of their ingredients.
In some ways, it’s like the Italian version of Billy Kwong. All the flavours and fundamental ideas of Chris Mosley’s dishes are distinctly Italian but the ingredients are Australian (often native), and the techniques modernised. Pastas are laboriously hand-made and risotto is made to order, but both are combined with or served next to clever textures, broths and deconstructions.
You’d never guess that’s what it is from outside. With white curtains blocking the windows and a lonely park bench, the restaurant looks mysterious and exclusive. It’s quite the opposite, though. Inside is warmly lit, verdant (particularly upstairs), well spaced and adorned with family portraits and pictures of Italian scenes. It looks like it’s been there since well before the 2013 opening.
The drinks list is the most Italian part of the production, with mostly Italian wines and a few international beers.