PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Chianti's appeal lies in its seamless combination of sophistication and approachability, marrying traditional with contemporary across styling, food and hospitality. Inside its two-storey heritage Hutt Street home, floorboards, stacked-stone walls, and soul-filling Italian opera charm. A double-sided fireplace divides the room (and opinions) with its trendy metho-flame and polished steel. Some may prefer to be seen dining alfresco on the verandah, but regardless of where you are, a sense of occasion sits with you.
It is easy to feel Italy is not too far away when roaming the menu. Seasonally reviewed, it is flavoured with regional fare from Tuscany, Venice and Piemonte. Would you like a "hot bath" to start with – of olive oil, garlic and anchovies? Raw seasonal vegetables will accompany it for dipping – a true Pietmontese dish. Meat starters offer slivers of Black Angus beef, Parma prosciutto, sopressa salame and pancetta. Seafood brings salted ling, spanner crab, tiger prawns and whitebait, or scallops in their shell baked with porcini mushrooms, butter, parsley, garlic and "poor man's parmesan".
Pasta choices make deciding between house made gnocchi with toasted walnuts and radicchio in a gorgonzola sauce, and a Venetian risotto of squid ink, calamari, lemon, chilli and parsley – difficult. Many find it hard to stray from the menu's stalwart rabbit dish, slow-cooked with the classic, beautiful gathering of onion, sage, and rosemary. Desserts procure predictables of panna cotta, zabaglione, gelato, semifreddo and affogato, so a tart of pine nuts and Kangaroo Island Ligurian honey served with roast peaches and sorbet – is of fresh appeal.
Chianti Classico is also known for its wine list – long wine list – documenting a journey throughout Italy's wine regions with a safe return to Australia's beauties. It holds much opportunity for you to make that sense of occasion you feel here, a whole lot more special.