Italian Restaurant in South Yarra, Australia: Da Noi

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Review
 
Da Noi HeartHeart
Restaurants and bars
Melbourne
Open: Dinner daily
Price: Moderate
Score (/20): 15

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Phone Number: +61 3 9866 5975
Address: 95 Toorak Road
South Yarra, Victoria
Country: Australia
Food Style: Italian

Da Noi is a little piece of Sardinia that has been transported to suburban South Yarra. Enter this long and tiny restaurant where the tables are quite closely spaced (don't come here if you don't want your conversation heard) and you can really believe you're somewhere else. Maybe it's the cleverly-created rustic feeling, or the little pine side table laden with delicious tarts and pastries, or perhaps it's the fact that when you sit down you'll feel as if you've entered someone's home and been invited to share what they have cooked for the night. Whatever it is, it works.
There's a small a la carte menu which changes daily but it's best to put yourself in the hands of Pietro Porcu. The set menu, of five courses, will change from day to day as well, in fact from table to table if you have any special dislikes (these are canvassed before you order), but always begins with antipasto. Served on individual plates, we had braised eggplant, tomatoes and capers, slices of cold suckling pig moistened with oil and freshly-cut herbs, green beans, roasted capsicums, and an unusual, but delicious, bread with a fish stuffing. This was followed by a very light, clear seafood broth studded with pieces of rich, red tomatoes and white fish (beautiful to look at and so easy to eat). Next there is a pasta dish, for us orecchiette with tender shards of rabbit meat and rich cauliflower, with plenty of rich juices. Next, a small piece of blue-cod, char-grilled and perfectly-fresh served on crisp coin-sized pieces of potato. This was served with a simple salad of ice berg lettuce, tomato and herbs, with a light dressing that spoke of oil not vinegar. Finally, the dessert platter, a rustic apple tart, vanilla panna cotta, and chocolate-infused pannetone.
Writing this down, it sounds as if we over-ate but the dishes were so well-balanced and the portions so finely-judged that all three of us left agreeing that not only had we just had a wonderful meal but we didn't feel stuffed full of food. A great achievement!
The wine list, which is entirely Italian, has many unfamiliar wines (and grapes, including Ribolla, which was new to us) which makes the one-to-two sentence descriptions very helpful. It describes the wine style and the types of food the wine complements. It's very reasonably-priced with some excellent wines from Friuli, Piedmont, Tuscany, and of course Sardinia. It was, however, to be revamped a week or two after our visit in early February 2000 and it should now be even more impressive. Apparently the well-heeled locals think it's too cheap. It seems that in South Yarra you're uncomfortable if you pay less than $60 for a bottle of wine so the restaurant is obliging by adding to the high-end part of the list.
A May 2001 visit confirmed that this restaurant has maintained its passion for good food. All the dishes were again perfect, but a veal soup with feather-light potato dumplings was simply sensational! The wine list continues to improve. We enjoyed the bold and assertive 1998 Campanaro from Feudi di San Gregorio and a still extremely youthful 1995 Turriga from Sardinia.
 
     
     
     


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