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Review: Otto Ristorante, Sydney
By: Ben Hall
Photography by Ben Hall
In a city that teems with waterfront restaurants, visitors to Sydney and couples on a romantic getaway can be overwhelmed with choices of dining experiences with a view. For many of them it's all about that - the view - and the food and dining experience can be a bonus in most cases. Otto Ristorante, however takes the "dining with a view" concept to another level and has become THE place that captures the essence of The Harbour City with the added advantage of a memorable culinary experience, with a laid back attitude.
Otto is one of around half a dozen restaurants at the top of the redeveloped historic Finger Wharf in Woolloomooloo. It overlooks a marina where multi-million dollar yachts are moored and one of the first things you notice is the Sydney skyline rising above the Botanic Gardens. It's about a 10 minute walk from the Sydney CBD which is why it has great views of the city.
As you'd expect, Otto's menu is dominated by Italian choices with some modern touches thrown in to make the most of the fresh produce on offer in this part of the world. As Head Chef Richard Ptacnik says: "My mission is to let the freshness of the produce and the quality of the ingredients do the talking."
Fresh seafood was recommended on the Sunday night we went to Otto. The fresh oysters were delivered that day from Pambula on the south coast of New South Wales, as was fresh water barramundi from the Northern Territory. True to their word, the quality and freshness was remarkable for both, as was the ravioli of finely pickled beetroot with goat's curd and, as this is an Italian restaurant, we put a pasta dish to the test. Strozzapreti artisan pasta with Yamba prawns, garlic, chilli and black olives in a tomato and calamari sauce is one of the most popular dishes at Otto and for good reason. This one is classic Italian fused with great Australian produce and it pretty much sums up the essence of the restaurant. There were other choices that'll have to wait for another time including Spaghetti All' Aragosta with Tasmanian crayfish, brandy, napolitana sauce, cherry tomatoes and baby basil and pork tenderloin wrapped in pancetta, leek puree, roasted organic carrots, fennel seeds and crispy lonza.
The wine list:
The wine list is predominately Australian and New Zealand with a healthy smattering of Italian, French and German choices hand picked to complement the menu. The restaurant has developed their own wines called Nostrano made from high quality, small batch grapes. Otto offers about eight reds and whites by the glass, and by the bottle the range is extensive including separate ranges for Northern and Southern Italy and some hard-to-find domestic offerings including the Flametree Embers Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from Margaret River ($45).
The wait staff are decked out immaculately in waistcoats and bow ties but there is an unpretentious, yet attentive, approach from all who work here which helps when it comes to the difficult task for choosing what to order from a good menu. The staff also seem to take great pride in the quality of the food and are more than happy to pass on their favourites, if asked to.
About half the restaurant is al fresco to take advantage of the city skyline view, and it's an elegant space where you feel like you can linger for a long lunch or a late dinner. Even with its al fresco design, it's still a place where you should get a little dressed up otherwise you may feel a little out of place.
If you want a special night out in Sydney, with great views, high quality food and friendly high end service, this is definitely worth experiencing.
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6 Cowper Wharf Rd, Woolloomoolo, NSW, Australia, 2011
Tel: +61 (0)2 9368 7488
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