PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Opening your first restaurant can be both terrifying and exciting at the best of times. When you are a former contestant of the juggernaut, MasterChef - as Matt, George and Gary would growl - "the pressure's on". Adelaide boy Andre Ursini has done himself and his city proud. After emerging from the mincer of MasterChef, he trained at Martini Ristorante. All the while however, he knew what he wanted to do – open his own restaurant. Of course there was opportunity to flog his MasterChef cred, but Andre had a clear vision of his gastronomic business long before the show. He has now presented Adelaide with a deliciously intelligent, communal way of dining that was inspired by his Italian heritage and European travels.
Polenta plays a pivotal role in the menu. If past polenta experiences have left the word stodgy in your mouth, then this will soon change. Silky, buttered mounds come laden with the likes of large, sweet prawns or wilted spinach and gorgonzola cheese. Order extra dressings of Italian sausage and prosciutto to raise the pleasure factor. From the ‘cucina' section of the menu come dishes made for sharing. Timber boards covered with waxed paper deliver assortments of fine Italian salumi, preserves, crostini and cheese. A vegetarian version features sweet potato chips, roasted mushrooms, slivers of radish, grilled eggplant and zucchini. There are sides of chicken, cheese, and olives stuffed with herb pate that will be hoovered bullet-fast. Make sure a dollop of fagoli puree finds its way to your mouth so your eyes can have fun rolling to the back of your head. Contrived displays of dry goods, kitchen gadgets and the obligatory polenta book are given charm with rustic timber furniture and tables packed with people who warm the room with the love of food.