Spiedo – Westfield, Sydney

There’s something about Westfield and Italian wine bars. First there was Ragu, which I reviewed a few weeks back, and now there’s Spiedo (and I’ll try not to make a budgie smuggler joke).

Spiedo is a Northern Italian restaurant and bar from chef Alessandro Pavoni (one of the many bald guys who appeared on Master Chef) that’s on level 6, which is one level above the foodcourt. Whereas Ragu stands out for its good and simple food, Spiedo is a more elegant – and larger – affair, with half its space being a bar area (called Stuzzi Bar) and the other the restaurant. The bar area almost feels like an indoor courtyard, complete with a fig tree, plus there’s a bar counter for those like me who enjoy eyeballing bartenders.

Tonight, however, I’m with glamazons who insist both on sitting at a table like civilised people and on having the Pirlo ($14), an aperitif made with prosecco, Aperol and sparkling mineral water. The idea sounds a little girly to me, but I like Aperol and am too scared of the glamazons to argue – and the Pirlo certainly works well enough to give me an appetite for more drinks.

I try to feel more manly by then getting the Birra Ronzani, a dark gold beer from Bologna that comes in a 750ml bottle ($19). It’s a good, crisp beer that’s ridiculously easy to drink – it should be more available in Australia.

To scramble my taste buds more I then order the Tuscan Sidecar ($17). This is made with Hennessey VS cognac and Tuaca vanilla liqueur (which has a brandy base) that’s shaken with lemon juice. The Tuaca replaces the orange liqueur (such as Cointreau) that’s usually in a sidecar, giving the cocktail more of a dessert flavour (a note for cocktail nerds: this variation is different to the Tuaca Sidecar, in which Tuaca replaces the cognac and is mixed with the Cointreau.)

The surprise hit, however, is the Go Figure ($17), made with muddled fig and apple, gin, blueberry liqueur, and cream (one of the glamazons ordered it).

I say it’s a surprise because I usually hate cream cocktails but this works. It works well. I’m almost ashamed of myself for liking it. Actually, I’m always ashamed of myself.

We also order some finger food such as the salumi plate ($18), crispy polenta sticks – ie chips – with gorgonzola sauce ($8 – I keep forgetting just how potent gorgonzola can be) and my favourite, the Sciatt (also $8), which the menu describes as Fontina cheese in buckwheat and grappa tempura. What this means is you get these little brown balls filled with great gooey cheese – and this is what I would order again here.

Actually, what I’d also like to get if I ever come back is a full-blown restaurant meal I spied on the menu – the Spiedo Bresciano con polenta ($35), which is a Brescian slow spit roast made with pork ribs, pork scotch fillet, quail and duck, served with Storo polenta. Apparently Spiedo is Italian for spitroast (and I’ll try not to make a joke about the sexual position).

Last but not least, I do need to mention the grappa trolley, which I’ve never seen before. This is basically a box filled with grappa bottles that’s wheeled around the bar and restaurant for those who want this Italian digestive. To be honest, I need to drink a lot more grappa, both for my own education and because it’s fun to say the word. Grap – pa. Try it. See how it trips off your tongue.

Ok, maybe I’ve drunk too much.

Spiedo, level six, Westfield, 188 Pitt Street, Sydney. Open everyday from breakfast onwards (7:30am-11pm). See the Spiedo website

Now it’s your turn – how do you rate Spiedo?

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