Foodie Partners: Janelle
If you follow the food industry news, you would have heard about the opening of Ombra Bar down on Bourke St. Ombra Bar is a brand new bar owned by Guy Grossi and this bar is located next to The Cellar Bar, and Grossi Florentino.
Ombra Bar is only 2 weeks young, but I have to say, this place did not disappoint at all, the service and food was flawless and I find it incredible as restaurants that are newly opened generally have teething problems.
It’s been quite a while since I caught up with Janelle, and I have to admit that I’m incredibly blessed to have Janelle as a friend. Originally we had planned on going to Horoki for dinner, however when we walked pass we were somewhat put off by the vacancy of the tables, so we decided to search for another restaurant.
We walked along Bourke St, and then I remembered that Ombra Bar was on my to-dine list, so I quickly asked Janelle whether she was happy to try. We had a looked at the menu and agreed that it looked really interesting! So in we went!
To start off with, we ordered a Bellini, which is a cocktail made with Prosecco and white peach puree. Prosecco is a Italian white wine. It’s a bubbly drink, not overly strong in alcohol taste and has fruity notes from the peach puree.
It’s one of my favourite drinks to order, and I remembered the first time ordering it was at Merchant, which is also one of Guy Grossi’s restaurant.
Whilst having our drink, Guy Grossi popped by the restaurant, and I was immediately star struck! (Yes, I do love my celebrity chefs), and I was actually very lucky to be introduced to Guy, and I even had a chance to shake his hand and have a brief talk to him :D I was indeed a very lucky and happy girl :)
Half way through our meal, I noticed a very small bug had flown into my drink, which wasn’t present when I received it. Of course, being a hot day, with the doors open it’s inevitable that small bugs would fly around.
As it’s not very proper for me to stick my finger into the glass to fish out the bug, I kindly asked Carlo (Manager, and Guy’s son), if he could help remove the bug from the drink. I told him that I didn’t want a new drink, and I was happy to drink it as the bug had not fallen into the actual drink, but stuck to the side of the glass. Without hesitation, Carlo immediately replaced both Janelle and my drink with a fresh glass of Bellini.
During the time when we were placing our order, we had two staff there who helped us order. When the menu was first placed in front of us, Fiorina, a very cute French waitress explained to us the menu and then left to allow us some time to look at the menu. Not long after, Joel, another waiter working at the bar came a long to offer us assistance in choosing the Salumi to go with the pizza. Joel was definitely knowledgeable and was able to describe each cut of meat and giving us suggestions on what to order. This is something I appreciate when I go to restaurants, as I prefer to have staff there who know what they are talking about.
First off, we ordered Zucchini Flowers stuffed with Ricotta and Preserved Lemon, from the Cicchetti menu. Cicchetti is an Italian term for “side dishes” or “snacks”.
I’m so glad that we ordered the Zucchini flowers, as they were amazing. Ever since the time I ordered Zucchini flowers at Henry and the Fox, I’ve been craving for it.
Whilst the dish may look very simple, I found the dish to be great – the Zucchini flowers were lightly battered and then fried. The batter was very airy and light, which meant that I was still able to taste the crisp and fresh green zucchini flowers. The stalk of the zucchini flowers were still very much crisp. As for the ricotta and preserved lemon mixture, it was also very light, and the flavours were well balanced and complemented the zucchini flowers well.
Disclaimer: This next dish was on the house, as Carlo was aware that I was blogging that night. They wanted us to try the dish.
I have to say, this dish was absolutely amazing. I personally wouldn’t have picked it off the menu myself, however after trying dish I highly recommend this dish to anyone who loves seafood.
Octopus tentacles can sometimes be off putting due to its look and also if it’s not cooked properly it can sometimes end up extremely tough. However here, they were cooked perfectly. The octopus tentacles were very tender, but still retained its chewy texture. Chewy, but not to the extent where you feel as though your teeth are about to fall off due to exhaustion.
The other ingredients that accompanied the octopus were extremely fresh, the tomato, basil leaves, and chick peas, and then dressed with a sauce that’s made from bread. Carlo explained it to me, but I cant recall the exact details.
Important definitions I learned that night:
Salumi: The Italian word for SALTED and CURED meats. Salume is the singular form.
Salami: Are DRY cured sausages. If you have one of them you have Salame.
I really like the concept behind Ombra Bar. Here at Ombra you get to DIY your own pizza, or you can order the salumi on its own and eat it like it is.
Janelle and I opted to DIY our own pizza. They have three different pizza bases:
1/ Bianca, Fior Di Latte, Rosmarino
2/ Marinara, Pomodoro Di San Marzano, Oregano
3/ Margerita, Fior Di Latte, Pomodoro Di San Marzano, Basilico.
First you choose the pizza base, followed by the Salumi section, which are salted and cure meats, as defined above.
Under the Tagliere Di Salumi section, you get to choose 3 different meats. The meats we opted for were: Capocollo, Sopressa Rivestita and Mortadella.
Capocollo is a cold cut made from a dry-cured whole pork shoulder or neck. The flavour of this cut is very delicate, not overly salty, and bits of fat within the cut. This was actually my favourite salumi out of the three.
Sopressa Rivestita is pressed by hand at the beginning of production to eliminate any air pockets. It’s made from high quality cuts from pork meat and blended with spices.
Mortadella is made from finely hashed or grounded heat cured pork sausage, and is flavoured by different spices and pistachio. This cut was probably our least favourite out of the three. It’s not that it taste bad, but I preferred the texture of the Capocollo and Sopressa Rivestita more :)
The pizza base that Janelle and I opted for was the Marinara, Pomodoro Di San Marzano, Oregano. The pizza base is very thin, and the crust is very crisp.
When our Pizza arrived Carlo explained that his father (Guy) travelled from North of Italy all the way to the South of Italy in a span of three weeks to find the best recipe for the pizza.
I have to say this is the best pizza base I’ve tried. The tomatoes used in this pizza base are San Marzano which is regarded as one of the best tomatoes by chefs, and it definitely has a rich distinctive tomato taste in this pizza base. Loved it.
Janelle and I decided to put a few pieces on each of the pizza slices, and leave some of the salumi and pizza slices to eat on its own, so that way we can have a proper taste of each ingredient.
I highly recommend everyone to add Ombra’s grounded chilli and oregano from their shakers as it makes the pizza even better! It heightens the flavour, yet still retaining the flavour of the salumi and the pizza base.
As usual, Janelle and I ordered two desserts to share.
The first dessert we ordered was the Crostata, which is a homemade apple and ginger jam tart. At first I was a bit worried that the ginger jam would be over powering, but luckily it was very well balanced with the apple. The apple and the ginger jam together were tart in taste, however with the vanilla ice-cream it balanced it out well. The pastry base was perfect, not too crumbly and not too hard. Very easy to cut through with our spoon. Surprisingly my favourite dessert of the night.
**Please note that the flavour of the tart changes on a regular basis**
Next up was the gelati. The flavours rotate on a regular basis like the tart. That night when we visited, the flavours they had were raspberry, mango and passionfruit. All of the flavours had a very a intense flavour, and definitely a strong punch to it, especially passionfruit! I also have to say that I love the colour of the raspberry flavour. Looks so vibrant!
Ombra Bar is definitely an amazing concept, and I’m so glad that I’ve had a chance to visit, because the food and the service was immaculate. The service was very personal and warm and the staff really made the effort in making sure all the patrons were well looked after. They were patient and helped us choose the dishes as I have a very weak command in any European languages. A highly recommended place if you want to go out and have a drink with good bar food :)