Osteria Coogee is a new eatery on Alfreda Street in Coogee. It is a white and breezy restaurant with a one page Italian menu and wine list. And there's one dish there that you simply cannot pass up...
Someone I once knew told me about her Italian father who once ate at a Chinese restaurant. When asked what he thought of the food, he said, "It's good, but where's the bread?". I can see my father thinking something similar, but instead asking where the rice is.
We are at Osteria Coogee for a very belated birthday dinner with my parents. I was overseas for the actual day and the my mother actually forgot it was my birthday so when we got back we decided to have dinner. And although I know my dad is fretting inside about the fact that we aren't dining at a Chinese restaurant, he keeps his cool.
Osteria Coogee is by chef Regan Porteous formerly at Toko, Riley St Garage, Tequila Mockingbird and Stanton & Co and his partner General Manager Carolina Angelucci and is his first restaurant as a restaurateur. The head chef is Stefano Gagliardi who was childhood friends with Carolina. The two first met as kids in Francavilla al Mare, a coastal town in the Abruzzo region.
On this Thursday night it is busy and around 70% full. It does tend to get noisy so dining with my hard of hearing father isn't ideal and even then for the rest of us it's a lot of "Sorry what did you say?".
This is my parents' first time trying burrata and they take it eagerly (I mean what's not to love?). The burrata here is served with pesto alla Trapanese (made with almonds and tomato) and a toasted segment of garlicky sourdough baguette. They also bring out an extra serve of bread ($4) which is a good idea because you need it to scoop up the many sauces.
There is one dish that perhaps lacks a bit of vigour and that's the octopus or polpo. My piece is a bit tough and I think I wanted the nduja to be spicier and punchier but it is quite mild.
My dad literally has no idea what he is eating. I don't think he has ever eaten gnocchi before but he knows what he likes and he loves this. In fact the gnocchi is everyone's favourite dish. The dumplings are petite and bathed in a rich porcini and truffle cream sauce. My dad goes back for seconds of this and then follows our lead dipping the bread into the sauce time and time again. If there were ever a case for licking a plate, this is it.
The other pasta dish isn't a slouch although it has a hard act to follow. The house made pappardelle (both this and the gnocchi are made in house) is paired with a cottony soft lamb shoulder ragu with a rich tomato base. On top is pecorino cheese. It's rich and hearty and the lamb doesn't have that distinct lamb aroma to it.
The steak is a 250gm Wagyu Flank cooked medium rare with a scoop of gorgonzola cream on the side. Flank isn't always the most tender cut but it has good flavour to it.
The side that we choose is the sauteed cabbage with garlic and the merest hint of chilli. We all really enjoy this side.
My parents dive into the tiramisu with its wondrously creamy mascarpone and biscuit layers. I also like the crushed amaretto cookies on top that give it a nice crunch. "We like this," my mother says and they both finish this off between the two of them.
Panna cotta $10
While Mr NQN makes fast work of the panna cotta. It's served in a martini glass so you don't get to wobble it and on top is a thin spiced biscuit. Underneath is a silky smooth and yes indeed wobbly vanilla panna cotta.
So tell me Dear Reader, what is your favourite cuisine? Is there one that you haven't tried much of and want to? And could you live without bread or rice?
This meal was independently paid for.
31 Alfreda St, Coogee NSW 2034
Phone: (02) 9665 6797
Wednesday – Friday: 5pm – Late
Saturday: 12pm – Late
Sunday: 12pm – 10pm