Pleasant Italian fare in a friendly atmosphere.
April 15, 2013
According to Google, 'bei amici' means 'beautiful friends' in Italian. A fitting choice then, as Bei Amici, the Swiss-Italian restaurant on Mona Road established six years ago by owner and chef Felix Rutz is somewhat of a local favourite. It's by no means the newest or trendiest, but from the looks of our visit, this place has smiling friends both serving the food and coming back time and again to eat it.
With three-month-old, in-house barrel-matured Negroni packing one hell of a sippable, oaky punch, we're not surprised. Nor were we surprised to find the rainbow trout, lightly showered in shaved mild Tasmanian wasabi and cucumber jelly, to be fresh and pleasant. We matched the fish with a sharp Friulano white named Gigante. The fig salad with oxheart tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella (as seen proudly displayed on Bei Amici's website) was a little too sweet, although the buttery and smooth glass of Bramito del Cerve Chardonnay made up for it nicely.
It turns out Bei Amici has more than just friends; it has followers. Not only was the local calamari sauteed with pistachios on a bed of fregola offered as a special before becoming a fulltime menu item by popular demand, the Sydney Tripe Society (we're not even kidding) has previously made its rounds via the traditional hotpot of honeycomb tripe, served as a ragu. Having never personally experienced tripe before, I'm glad I did. But pardon the cliche; it's an acquired taste. The calamari was justifiably deserving of its promotion.
For those not brave (or perhaps foolish) enough to go down to tripe town, the housemade gnocchi has the gorgeous odour of truffles and is a mushroom-lovers delight. The duck is also a great choice — the skin in particular has all those wonderful juices locked away — but the sausage element might be a little too gamey if you're not keen on those strong, rustic flavours. Desserts were good; in particular the hazelnut meringue with poached pear sorbet and a devilishly alcoholic nipper of housemade blood orange cello. Nice coffee, too.
With a staff that's followed the chef's food from state to state, passion for original and authentic recipes and a fine location, Bei Amici might not be your absolute BFF but it's definitely worth knowing.