Vini: Italian Regional Dinners

In need of a fresh dining concept, where nothing is left to your choice? Then Vini might be the answer. A smallish bistro in Surry hills with a daily menu of imaginative, contemporary Italian fare scrawled on the blackboard walls; one would probably gravitate towards the opposite wall featuring a larger-than-life wine list. *nods in glee*. But listen, every Tuesday, the kitchen heats up in preparation for regional night; a prix fixe ($50) 4 course menu highlighting a specific region in Italy, places are limited and wait lists overflowing, so act fast!

18/3/14 was the date that the region of Marche was put on the culinary pedestal at Vinis' . Having no prior knowledge regarding the deep foodie history of the area, I left it to the capable hands of the Chef Stephen to shine the light on the matter.

A claypot warms our table, stuffed with all manner of good things, Braised Octopus in tomato with pancetta, polenta and leeks. This was a hearty dish, perhaps suited for a cold winters night at a seaside town. The tender octopus rendering a burst of sweet juices with every bite. We mopped up the bed of soft creamy polenta feverishly.

Our other antipasti was the Pickled Zucchini and Egg, Crispy Sage. This was a lovely cold dish, contrasting to the previous offering. Imagine a long hot summers day, this would be perfect accompanied by a glass of cool, crisp white wine. The pickling giving a lovely earthy flavor to the simple dish, the crispy sage lending crunch.

This was followed swiftly by Brodetto di sardoncini e cavolfiore (cauliflower in an anchovies and sardine fish stew). Brodetto is the most famous fish stew of the Adriatic coast and varies widely in form from each coastal town. Our rendition was perfumed with garlic and tinted a lovely shade of orange from the use of saffron. The cauliflower poached to a familiar soft state in the broth. Being particularly averse towards sardines and anchovies, I approached this dish with caution; however, was pleasantly surprised by the amalgamation of flavors.

The highlight of the night for me would have to be the Porchetta all ascolana schiacciata di patate spinaci al pecorino dolce (Stuffed Pork loin done porchetta style using fennel, garlic and rosemary served with flatted Swiss potatoes). A lovely slab of pork roulade teases our appetites, the doneness executed perfectly, unfortunately the sweet sticky glaze poured over the meat was disruptive, clashing with the natural potential of the protein. 

There was one shortfall in the entire course of dinner, and we were left feeling a little underwhelmed after the dessert. The torta di mele (Traditional Italian Apple Cake) was a simple bake that was unfortunately overlooked. Hopes of a moist crumb studded with wafer thin apple, unfolding in a nightmarish dense sponge of limited flavor imagination. Sided by a scoop of nougat ice cream, I relinquished my barren mouth with that. 

Vini's uneven showing means a visit to the restaurant is something of a wild card, but let me reiterate, the dining experience and educational exposure to a different Italian regional cuisine by itself makes this place worth a trip. Not to mention their formidable wine list, now, that's worth checking out for sure.

3/118 Devonshire St (on Holt St)
Surry Hills
Tel: 9698 5131

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Meet Sihan

Snap Eat Love is Lee Sihan. 27 going on 28, she is a dessert enthusiast, food nomad, wanderer of lands and a pastry chef currently working in Sydney. Fueled by a lifelong addiction to all things sweet, and a burning desire to travel the globe follow her as she embarks on delicious escapades both in and out of the kitchen

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