Cuisine: Italian, fine dining
Location: Perth, Fitzgerald Street north of CBD
At the media launch of the Italian Cooking Master Class by Accento and ICCI, I had bumped into one of the chefs that takes one of the cooking courses in the 6 course series, Maurizio Di Ciano. He’s the owner of Maurizio Restaurant which I have visited on a few occasions and he invited me to drop by with my friend so we did. I’ve previously visited for lunch but never for dinner and was eying the 5 course degustation for $99. Given my friend looked at the al a carte menu and decided it was too hard to choose and suggested a ‘dego’, I was thrilled. The degustation menu is not displayed so it was a surprise menu that the chef puts together. Fine by me.
Walking in, I was warmly welcomed and taken to a choice of tables. I also was warmly greeted by Maurizio’s brother Marco, and Maurizio himself. The interior is smart and polished and the service throughout the night was in keeping with the surrounds. We were brought a basket of Italian bread with chilli oil which was fantastic. During the night, we talked to Maurizio who also joined us or a few courses too, given he had a light lunch. Just to be clear, Maurizio is one of my Dad’s clients so he doesn’t pull up a chair at every patron’s table! Anyway, on to the food which was an absolute treat:
- First Course – we were presented with a medley of tastes of Italy. Clockwise from the top left, were prawns followed by eggplant parmigiana, portobello mushrooms, and mussels. Sounds a bit simplistic but the menu explanations of each item will have your mouth watering. Did it taste as good as it looked? Absolutely. Delicious flavours in each component with the mussels in a tomato mixture being my favourite.
- Second Course – from the mountain and the sea. Maurizio was explaining how cooking is about using the freshest produce available. Each region would use what they have. This course epitomises that. From the sea is a seafood spaghetti served in a tomato sauce. The pasta is cooked al dente so is a little firm to the touch but sufficiently cooked that it’s not a chewy, underdone dough. The spaghetti is an excellent vehicle for the luscious fresh flavours of the tomato sauce, accompanied by seafood such as prawns, scallops, and clams. I found the dish quite intense as the salty seawater from the seafood has seeped into the sauce. It’s not salty in that the chef has over-salted the dish, it’s just that burst of sea salt from the water. This component of the dish wasn’t over-salted, just a little intense but delicious nonetheless. The second component is from the mountain. The ingredients contained amongst the tubular spaghetti are ricotta, herbs, mushroom, broccoli, rounded off with Parmesan. I really loved this component. Lovely light flavours and softness of the ricotta with a slightly harsher kick from the Parmesan. My favourite of the night.
- Third Course – pan fried sea bass with fennel salad and orange slices. The fish was perfectly cooked, juicy, moist succulent and tender. As with the other dishes, a drizzle of olive oil was added by Maurizio which really brings out the flavour. With Italian cooking, you can never have enough olive oil. I keep seeing fennel salad done on cooking shows, especially Masterchef, so was interested to see what this is like. The fennel is sliced very thinly but still quite firm. Biting in, it has a very slight aniseed flavour which is balanced by the citrus from the orange slices. The fish is a little oily so the citrus keeps the dish in check.
- Fourth Course – a serve of scallopini and a serve of roasted baby goat, along with roasted potatoes, greens, and a few other vegies accompany this dish. If you haven’t tried the roasted baby goat here, you must. I ate this the first time I visited Maurizio Restaurant and it’s amazing! Today’s version didn’t disappoint. Lovely tender meat, full of flavour, the herbs, even the fat, is edible and oh so tasty. The veal scallopini is also very tender in it’s own lovely sauce and is much richer in contrast to the roasted baby goat. I also enjoyed the roast potatoes and the steamed greens and vegies. While the scallopini probably doesn’t fit on the plate in terms of the different components, each is executed perfectly.
- Fifth Course – by this stage we’re pretty full but there’s always room for dessert. We were presented with an Italian sponge sandwiching a layer of vanilla custard and topped with a chocolate custard. The sponge was soft and light and the custard was tasty too. The bottom most layer contained alcohol for moistness and sultanas which also had absorbed the alcohol. Pretty good. The other component is the panna cotta with mixed berries. Unfortunately, the mixed berries were a little bit too sweet and really stood out from the dessert in terms of taste. The panna cotta is a smooth silky milky mound of goodness. I really liked it. It’s interesting because I’m not a fan of panna cotta, but I ‘ve eaten a few which are just amazing which goes to show there’s obviously a gulf between an average panna cotta and one where someone really knows what they’re doing.
- Dessert – well the night was drawing to an end, or so I thought. I was chatting to Marco, Maurizio’s brother, who was asking me what I ate last time for dessert. I had zabaione with ice cream. I’ve seen zabaione made on Masterchef served with roasted peaches, a recipe I’m still yet to try out. Zabaione is like a custard, an Italian dessert made with egg yolks, sugar, a sweet wine like Marsala which is beaten over a moderate heat, turning it into a thick ribbon like sauce. You can then just drizzle this over anything. I really loved it last time and was glad I got to try it for the first time. So Marco asked if we wanted some so we said why not! I might be regretting that decision because stomach levels were nearly at maximum level. A second dessert was brought out to us. A bit like cannoli, this was a waffle crepe stuffed with Mascarpone and gelato. The zabaione is an event in itself, much like the theatre that comes with crepe Suzette. A trolley is wheeled out to our table and the Maitr’d lights up a gas stove, places a large copper pot on the flame, takes this massive whisk and starts going at it, though very controlled and understated. After all, this is a fine dining restaurant. Within a short period of time, a thick, fluffy custard sauce emerges. This version was much runnier. It was then generously spooned all over the crepes dusted with cocoa and served. One bite and you’re in heaven! This version was different to what I had last time. Still tasty but I like last time’s version better. I think the liquor might have been different. What an end to the night. We chatted some more with Maurizio, Marco, a supplier that just came in, and then we left what was a long night of eating and drinking.
Maurizio Food Review Summary
Verdict: Today, was a first time visit to dinner after 3 previous lunch visits. I was really glad to have experienced a degustation at Maurizio Restaurant. I thought it was well worth the money, 5 delicious courses with excellent flavours. It was a delight to experience a range of Italian cuisine with differing flavours. I really enjoyed the medley of 4 different components to kick the night off on our first course. The second course “from the mountain and the sea” was an excellent follow up. While the salty seawater from the seafood made the tomato sauce a little intense, it contained such great flavours and felt like the sea. The “mountain” component stole the show for me. I loved the ricotta, broccoli, and mushroom in a thicker tubular spaghetti, finished off with a slightly harsher flavour provided by the Parmesan. The sea bass was moist, juicy and succulent as our third course, and for fourth, it’s hard to go past the delicious roasted baby goat which is also a favourite and probably the signature dish at Maurizio Restaurant. The scallopini also contained great Italian flavours, and then the fifth course of that silky smooth creamy panna cotta was fantastic. The surprise dessert or sixth course of waffle crepe, Mascarpone, gelato and zabaione was something special to finish the night. I really enjoyed the array of delicious food presented throughout the night, the fantastic & professional service, and appreciate the generosity showed by Maurizio & Marco to us. Maurizio’s stories were also entertaining so a great night out all round.
Recommendation: Highly Recommend
Maurizio Restaurant Details
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