Smoky, velvety Rigatoni Amatriciana perfectly paired with a Montepuliciano d’Abruzzo

Mille Vini is in the heart of Surry Hills, bang in the middle of the Dolphin and Clock Hotels on Crown Street.  One step inside and you feel a million miles from Sydney. This charming neighborhood restaurant has all the feels of a rustic Italian farmhouse, it’s warmly lit, there’s textures and flowers, and the vibe is welcoming.  There’s an extensive wine list with a range of varietals from across Italy, and a seasonal menu that includes classics from different Italian regions with an emphasis on handmade pasta.

We joined the team at Mille Vini for a wine master class the Italian way, connecting over beautiful wine and a refined Italian feast.   Over the evening they took us on a journey through Abruzzo, which extends from just west of Rome to the Adriatic Sea.  The team perfectly paired a range of Abruzzo wines with 5 courses of seriously sexy food.

Silky sweet Bresaola with an artichoke twist

We’re welcomed with an excellent dry Ruggeri Prosecco, that pleasantly tingles our palettes.  Crostini Stracciatella and Waygu Bresaola arrive for starters and, are paired with a Provence style rose, lighter and drier than a typically Italian rose, and what a match!  Both these appetizers are on Mille Vini’s regular menu, so you can go anytime and experience the perfectly toasted crostini, topped with creamy, slightly tart Stracciatella dressed with velvety roasted peppers and super sweet tiny raisins.  The Bresaola is a stand-out and was and gobbled up by the blokes on our table.  I’m tickled pink with the tiny artichokes it’s delicately dressed with, that are still a little crunchy to the bite, providing a pleasing textural contrast to the silky cured meat.

Everyone does a zucchini flower these days.  Mille Vini’s version is outstanding, fried to perfection and filled plump with ricotta, truffled pecorino, and deliciously drizzled with blossomed honey.  I’m starting to see a pattern.  It’s the details here in each dish that make this “not your every-day” neighborhood Italian. 

Head Chef Francesco Di Gioia, who was born in Puglia, southern Italy is known for his emphasis on handmade pasta.  We won’t ever forget his handmade mushroom ravioli dripping in Porcini butter, partnered with the soft, creamy velvet tannins of a dark berry coloured Montepulciano. 

I’m going to be honest and I say I usually see Rigatoni Amatriciana and I say, meh.  I’m very, very wrong about meh here tonight.  This Amatriciana has been cooked for more than 6 hours with smoked artisan pancetta.  It’s smoky, it’s sweet, it glistens, and covers the perfectly al dente rigatoni like velvet.  People are fighting over the last spoonful, even though by now we’re pretty full.  It’s really, really good, and the Montepuliciano d’Abruzzo it’s paired with (2018 Ulisse Amaranta), makes it even better.

The salted caramel tiramisu brings all the best things about dessert and piles them neatly together.  There’s cream, there’s salted caramel, there’s coffee, and there is a rocking hazelnut crunch that adds a textural punch.  I loved it, and I don’t usually “do” dessert.

Mille Vini is kicking off regular wine nights.  The next will be a trip through Sicily, and Sicily is turning out some of the most exciting wine in Italy.   Mille Vini’s everyday wine list is also outstanding.  Their food is excellent, it’s delicate, it’s tasty, and it’s unique (which includes having live jazz on Wednesday nights) whilst steeped in tradition.  Go if you can, you won’t regret it.

Mille Vini, 397 Crown Street, Surry Hills, Sydney
Hours – Mon: 5pm – 10pm, Tue to Thu: 5pm – 11.30pm, Fri to Sat: 3pm – 11.30pm, Sun: Closed Temp.

About the author

Leonie’s always loved food. Little Leonie had a curious mind, and palette. She loved to try all the different dishes her dad crafted with love, in their North Queensland home. He also caught mud crabs, and she could be found chasing them around the back yard before they were devoured for dinner. Leonie has lived in Sydney for over 20 years; loves exploring Sydney’s diverse food scene by trapsing around the suburbs, finding wonderful pockets of yumminess. Leonie loves all types of adventures including and not limited to travelling, exploring different wines and is always moving her body. Gracie the Groodle, and her three kiddies keep her fairly busy, and keep her company on many an adventure.


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