Vesta Italian | Darling Quarter

Astute readers will have noticed that I am now putting in restaurant locations after the pipe (vertical bar) in the title. Yes, I know everyone loves my *cough* witty *cough* sub-title, but I think location is much more immediate, and useful. This will be the way going forward!

Speaking of going forward…onto the restaurant itself! In the ever-modernising precinct of Darling Quarter, restaurants have a bit of implied imperative to be just that little bit more decorated with respect to their service, the food and trappings. Vesta Italian hails as an example of these new breed of restaurants cropping up in the district, but does it deliver on the goods?

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Date Last Visited: 8/2/14
Address: 15/1-25 Harbour St Sydney, NSW 2000
Recommended Dish(es): gnocchi, pork belly pizza, strawberry & rhubarb pizza, seared scallops

The usual disclaimer applies, as I was invited by Folke Army.

After bare, countrified brick, wood is the next affair as the “furnishing of the day”. Why not? Wood is sophisticated, classy and oozes a homely appeal. As a result of this fine grain, Vesta looks absolutely gorgeous.

Vesta Italian

Wood is SOOO in right now

Then again, there are those that hate the look, so check your mileage.

A distinct advantage is that it does stand out – even as other restaurants around the area are adorned with wood as well. Vesta’s veneer is…shinier? Not sure what adjective to use here.

Vesta Italian drinks

Mango daiquiri & margarita ($16 ea)

Now I don’t drink, but as my parents were my guests this time I felt they should get something at least. Besides, our server pretty much insisted. Oh btw, happy hour is on 5-7pm Fri/Sat if you’re into that kind of thing.

I had small sips of each drink and I have to say, they make a mean magarita, though I preferred the mango daiquiri more. Call me girly, but that refreshing sweetness of one of my favourite fruits is a combo that’s difficult to trounce.

Vesta Italian seared scallops

Seared scallops w/cauliflower puree & lemon crumble ($16)

The food at Vesta is priced at a point where you’d think “hmm, it’s not cheap, but given that it’s Darling Quarter, it’s acceptable”. You may or may not agree, but that’s what impressions seemed to be. I have to say though that portion sizes were a little lacking – we ended up ordering about $150 worth of food (albeit stuffing ourselves) in the process.

We start off with some very pleasingly-presented seared scallops which taste almost as good as they look. That sounds like a jibe – but really they do taste quite sumptuous. I swear I tasted a bit of the abductor muscle, but I didn’t mind so much because the searing was done to a degree which enhanced the textures of the scallop.

Vesta Italian seared scallops

A top down because this dish is beautiful

With that down pat, add in the squid ink & cauliflower puree and you have a great flavour base for an excellent entreé.

Vesta Italian gnocchi

Gnocchi al ragu di agnello – gnocchi w/slow cooked lamb shoulder ragu, peas & shaved aged parmesan ($23)

Possibly one of the best dishes I’ve tried (and most were very good) in the meal, the gnocchi w/lamb shoulder ragu is just a plate of awesome.

There’s not much to say here – the gnocchi is soft and gives way easily, but still maintains that delicious starchy tactility. The lamb ragu is utterly tender & delicious to boot. I would eat a mountain of this stuff despite the carbs. The temptation to order a second one was definitely there.

Vesta Italian gnocchi

There’s something about these plates that is so attractive…

As an aside – awesome variable plating! Yes, depending on the context, plating does matter to an extent.

Vesta Italian spaghetti

Spaghetti al gamberetti – spaghetti w/chilli prawns, garlic, cherry tomatoes, white wine & rocket

The spaghetti w/chilli prawns is the weakest dish of all that we ordered on the night. The pasta itself was a little heavy on the al dente side, and while I usually wouldn’t mind this, the fact that it wasn’t complemented by a strong flavour profile meant that all I was really tasting was plasticky noodles. It was also a little watery, which had a bit of an ick-factor to it.

Perhaps it was born to only be made with bolognese. At least it looks pretty?

Vesta Italian fish of the day

Fish of the Day – pan-fried barramundi w/zucchini flower & giardiniera (well, something like it) ($MP)

barramundi made for the fish of the day, with a rather unusual flavour profile. It was served with rather sour (and not really any other flavour) vegetables which were too saggy-soft. The fish itself as a result didn’t have much flavour going into it either, and the dish fell over as a result.

I’ve found that poorly cooked fish is due to poor texture management and/or seasoning. Vesta was decent with the former, but went way up the citrus bar for flavour. This dish could’ve been something else!

Still, would pick this one over the spaghetti – the zucchini flower that went with the fish was pretty yum!

Vesta Italian pork belly pizza

Pork belly pizza – diced pork belly, mozzarella, potato & apple sauce ($23)

When I saw the pork belly pizza as an option on the menu I knew I HAD to order it. It was the only unique pizza on the menu – it isn’t exactly Italian. I love pork belly and I love pizza, so this was a risibly easy choice to make.

Vesta Italian pork belly pizza

It’s a gloriously moreish pizza

Ahhh, and it was glorious. A major factor of success is the applesauce. It ties together the various textures – between the fatty pork, the lean part of the pork, the cheese, potatoes and the pizza base/crust itself. You simply feel like you’re eating deliciousness itself.

The pork belly itself is Asian-style, with chilli and a bit of a five-spice taste to it. Somehow, it all just works out.

Get this pizza if you’re at Vesta, that’s all.

Vesta Italian cannoli

Home made cannoli w/ricotta ($6)

Act three of the meal involved some hefty desserts. First up was the cannoli w/ricotta. This was a tough dessert – the shell was really steely, resisting everything short of a strong chomp. That feels good to some people though.

As for the innards, be warned, it’s rich. Like wow even between the three of us we felt like there was a bit too much. Thick & dense, and ever so sweet. Tasted a bit like taro to be honest. Good for a few bites, but can’t imagine you wanting to polish one in its entirety.

Vesta Italian strawberry & rhubarb pizza

Strawberry & rhubarb pizza – vanilla custard topped w/crumbed oats & ice cream ($14)

This stupefyingly-awesome looking strawberry & rhubarb pizza’s only weakness is that the ice cream begins to melt pretty much immediately due to the pizza’s heat. Other than that, I only have good things to say about it. Delicious sweetness from multiple sources hit you all at once, and the heat of the pizza is brilliant as it brings out all the flavour nuances of the pizza.

Best shared, no regrets.

Vesta Italian panna cotta

Vanilla panna cotta w/crumble & strawberry granita ($12)

Last up we’ve got a classic vanilla panna cotta. This isn’t going to make it in writing back home, but for what it’s worth it’s a strong panna cotta, especially as there’s crumble to balance it out. I could eat this by myself, it’s simple and it works.

Vesta Italian Panna cotta

Crunchy and soft, the way desserts ought to be

Vesta Italian coffee

Ermagherd, coffee in 3 guises – latte, flat white, cap ($?)

Our server overheard me telling my parents that Vesta is meant to have the best coffee in Darling Quarter, so despite my best protests (given it’s nighttime), three coffees arrived on the table in a few short minutes.

Well…drink up!

As I’m no coffee expert, nor have I tried the coffee anywhere else in DQ, I can’t vouch on how they stack up. But if I worked at DQ I could come back for coffee at this level.

Vesta Italian

This place is worth going back to again

Vesta is a great find (or rather, them finding me), would not hesitate to be back for some more gnocchi & pizza. The shiz.

As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three 😀

Awesome:

  • Striking gold with many dishes ordered
  • That pork belly pizza & gnocchi…omg>

Not so Awesome:

  • A bit of a flop with the fish and the spaghetti

7.5/10 Caesars

Vesta on Urbanspoon

  • Editor Rating

  • Rated 3.5 stars
  • 70%

  • Vesta Italian
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: April 1, 2015

Summary:

17 comments on “Vesta Italian | Darling Quarter”

    • Michael Shen Reply

      I would wholeheartedly recommend it. Their long tables should be just right for that kind of occasion.

    • Michael Shen Reply

      And they taste as good as they look – well, the panna cotta & the pizza do.

    • Michael Shen Reply

      A strong buy if ordered – pizza just works regardless of sweet or savoury!

  1. missklicious Reply

    I always think of darling harbour as lacking in decent choices when I’m trying to find places to eat around there. This looks great though! love the look of the rhubarb pizza!

    • Michael Shen Reply

      That’s what I think as well. I actually maintain that statement, but the scene is getting better. If Vesta is a new minimum standard, then I won’t have complaints anymore!

      The rhubarb pizza is killer!

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