The rustic setting of Essenza Italian in Surry Hills is a small restaurant but the table settings didn’t make us feel cramped. Service was attentive and gracious as I kept hassling for the waiter a few times for some suggestions on their menu. I was pleased with the menu as it has a few interesting dishes.
As soon as the Garlic Bread ($6) smacked my nose the amount of garlic and butter on the bread was just perfect and as for the bread itself, thick and crisp along with the edges served warm.
Espresso Martini ($14) was the first cocktail to arrive and good enough to order for a second time, a combination of bitter espresso with a shot of Kahlua coffee liqueur, Absolute vodka and white crème de cacao.
Apparently the Orange Cocktail ($14) is exactly the same taste as lemon lime bitter so it’s not hard to pass on this drink and try something else more exciting.
We decided to try Beef Carpaccio with Aioli ($17) from their antipasti section of the menu and seemed to not disappoint. The glossy pinkish meat rich in beefy flavour and complemented perfectly with the aioli, parmesan and crispy almond biscuit.
Essenza Spaghetti Meat Balls with Tomato Ragu ($25) was one of the most interesting dish I found to be incredibly appetising. The meat balls combined with the fresh chunks of tomato and purée sauce was a real winner dish. With the fancy title I believe this is the best spaghetti bolognaise I’ve come across. The meat balls itself is enough to serve as a dish on its own.
The large pieces of meat ball seasoned well without the need of adding additional pepper or salt to bring out the flavours.
Meat balls were delicate as it was falling apart- as a result ensure you eat it quick!
If the cheerful staff provide the Special of the day ($25) menu, you must order something from this menu. Creamy based sauce with seafood particularly generous on the prawns, asparagus and a hint of pesto with thick fettuccine pasta was really rich and flavoursome.
The Strawberries on a plate ($15) is expressed as three parts on one plate- the strawberries in a brulee shaped mold consist of baked syrupy strawberries and crumbled biscuits and not excessively sweet. The edible bowl shaped biscuit with strawberry ice-cream topped with fresh strawberries was simply a bliss. As for the large strawberry covered in milk chocolate I found the chocolate to be too sweet.
I find this dish to be a little pricey, especially if it’s $5 for each section then I personally wouldn’t want to pay that amount on a piece of strawberry dipped in milk chocolate at a Italian restaurant.
We decided to accompany our first dessert with their traditional Crème brulee ($12) – a deliciously silky rich decadent, flavoured with vanilla bean. Unfortunately the sugar coated crust was under caramelised as I managed to texture the crunchy sugar pieces rather than the smooth liquefied sensation of the sugar. Next to the delicious brulee included a delicate biscuit basket with a scoop of smooth vanilla ice-cream and cooked rhubarb that added a tangy sweet twist to this dish.
Right after we paid our bill we were greeted with Complimentary house-made biscuits (Free)– Horary for freebies!
I would definitely return to Essenza Italian for their lovely friendly service, cocktails, antipasti and most importantly try more traditional Italian pastas!