Jamie’s Italian

Jamie’s Italian opened in the Canberra Centre while I was overseas on holidays. Upon my return 6/10 people asked me whether I’d tried Jamie’s new restaurant…and not about my 2 month trip around South America. Priorities, people!

I did visit Jamie’s Italian a week after my return, as a friend (who used to live in Canberra) was in town and wanted to try something new. I suggested that we rock up to Civic and try and find somewhere that could fit us in, where ever we ended up, that’s where we were supposed to be.

Jamie’s Italian is situated on the corner entrance of the Canberra Centre’s North Quarter, opposite Babars and underneath Dendy cinemas. It’s the newest edition to the ‘eat street’ which includes Koko Black, Waggamama, Sammy’s and Cream – if you can’t find something to eat here, you’re pretty bloody picky. We turned up at 7pm, and – unsurprisingly – the place was packed. Oh, Canberrans. You do go mental for anything trendy and new.

We enquired about a table for two with the hostess, who informed us it would be an hour wait. Now, thankfully I’d done my research – normally I would have been all “f*ck that!”…but I’d heard some people had been told 2 hours, and then called back after 40 minutes. I indicated to J that we should take our chances, maybe go and get a quick drink while we waited…and low and behold another server turned up and said that, actually, there was a table available. Hey presto, right place right time! Turns out someone hadn’t come back for their table, so it was ours. Sucks to be the couple who walked in just before us, who were also told it would be an hour. If you’re planning on going to Jamie’s without a booking (which seems to be impossible to do for parties under 9 people) – you’ve really got to be lucky.

We were sat near the window, at a wooden table with funky pink metal seat (seriously, I want them!). The décor at Jamie’s Italian is modern, fresh and not too pretentious – it’s quite cool. You can almost feel Jamie Oliver’s influence in the setting, lots of wood and clean lines…and wow, would you look at that, Jamie Oliver merchandise scattered throughout the store. Subtle. The doors to the restaurant are open, but it’s a 33 degree day and there doesn’t seem to be any air-conditioning (it’s faint if it’s there at all). The room is crowded, frantic servers run all over the place nearly crashing in to each other. The space is loud and, even though large, feels a little claustrophobic – a table outside might be your best bet on a busy hot summer night.

The menu has a good variety of options, no matter what you like. There are starter/sharing platters, pastas, and a good mix of main options – with quite a few good options for vegetarians.

We ordered the “Crispy Squid” to share as an entrée and it was…tiny. So tiny. And hard to share, even though they gave us separate plates I ended up dropping aioli all over the table. The squid was light but a little removed of flavour. There were chillies and fried garlic in the basket, but the squid itself could have used something more in the batter.

For mains, J ordered the Mortadella and Ricotta Panzerotti (pasta filled with mortadella and chicken, coated in a blue cheese sauce – topped with toasted, spiced nuts and an apple, lemon and parsley salad).

This was the “large serve”. Laaaarge. I can’t even imagine how ridiculous the smaller server must have been. J said it was nice, although the blue cheese sauce was faint and quite creamy.

I decided to order the Truffled Turkey Milanese (Turkey stuffed with fontina and prosciutto, topped with a fried-free range egg and truffles) with a side of Apple slaw.

In contrast to J’s meal – mine was HUGE! I gotta say, I was whelmed by my meal – not over whelmed, not under whelmed. The egg was well cooked, oozing out yummy yellow yolk. The couple of truffle shavings gave the egg a subtle earthy flavour that worked well with the turkey and cheese – but that only covered a small area of the massive lump of meat, that meant that the rest of the piece of turkey was thin and not overly flavourful, despite being covered in cheese. I’m pretty sure there was no prosciutto on the plate anywhere. The apple slaw was really tasty though, really fresh and tangy – perfect for a warm summer’s eve.

We saw the dessert menu when we first sat down and had already made up our minds that we would be having dessert, no matter how full we were at the end of our mains. I was full but unsatisfied, and J was still hungry – so we ordered desserts. Dessert turned out to be the best part of the whole night. J ordered the Tutti Fruitti Lemon Meringue Pie.

The pie was deeeeeelicious. A strong, tart, lemon base with gooey meringue on top = perfection. I decided on the trifle.

The trifle was creamy and sweet, but got quite rich after a while – I couldn’t finish it. The itlian meringue on top left a delightful after taste and fruitiness of the jam worked wonders with the custard. Beautiful. I’ll be back for dessert for sure.

The service at Jamie’s Italian was friendly and fast – I cannot fault it. We were close to the kitchen though, so there was a lot of movement, lots of servers rushing back and forth…they certainly don’t slack off!

Verdict: Try Jamie’s Italian, if only to say you have. The food is on the better side of average, but certainly not mind blowing. The atmosphere might not be for everyone, certainly not those looking for an intimate dinner for two – but if you’re after a fun, laid back space then this place is great. Try Jamie’s Italian, and then next time you feel like Italian go to Italian and Sons, Mezalira or one of the many fantastic places in Kingston.

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