Mantecato Risotteria Italiana
129/85 Reynolds St
Balmain, Sydney

While Mantecato does specialise in risotto, they offer so much more. They are a full Italian restaurant from entree, through main courses and on to dessert.

It's a quaint, intimate place - seating just 35 - though it does seem a bit bigger than this. The front of house is capably handled by owners Marco and Paolo Orso and their charm adds even more to the experience.

The decor opens the whole place up with an entire wall of white tiles along one side - with the menu written on it in thick black pen.

There are a variety of spaces where you can choose to eat there - from the back verandah, through to inside table seating and even seating at a high front bench where you can sit and watch the world go by while you dine.

The great thing about dining Italian is that you can always nibble on some olives while you peruse the menu to make your food choices.

The olive miste was a blend of house marinated mixed Italian olives and was perfect for our deliberation time!

We also of course needed something to sip on so we grabbed a couple of glasses of Il Follo Valdobbiadene Veneto DOC.

We started our meal with a very light and tasty bruschetta with a difference. The bruschetta dello chef consisted of sourdough Brikfields bread, taleggio cheese, zucchini and prosciutto

We then moved on to another light treat. The fritto misto was delicately battered and fried calamari, prawns and zucchini with a lovely aioli for dipping. This was delicious with very light batter going perfectly with the seafood.

Of course a healthy fresh salad didn't go astray either.

The insalata di polopo was made with very tender baby octopus, soft potatoes, olives and parsley.

It was a great combination and also perfect for those looking for a healthy start. We simply squeezed a drizzle of lemon on it and it was ready to go.

Mantecato is of course labelled as a risotteria so it seemed more than reasonable to try one of their risotto specialities.

Sir ordered the saffron risotto alla Milanese con osso buco. What arrived was a true traditional risotto - so much more than some of the soggy fried rice variations available in some places. The rice was perfectly cooked and the braised osso buco was extremely tender. This was delicious.

Mlady was after something different to get a wider sense of their food.

She therefore chose the tagliatelle al ragu - hand made tagliatelle pasta served with pork and beef ragu alla bolognaise.

The substantial dish that arrived was impressive enough but the al dente pasta and the full flavoured sauce made it so much more memorable.

While the starters and main courses are great at Mantecato it's a must to save just a little bit of space for dessert. We originally decided to order two desserts and share them, but that good idea seemed to go out the window once they actually arrived.

Sir focused on the chocolate semi fredo - something you'd normally expect Mlady to order due to her chocaholism (is that a word?). It was lovely with plenty of big chocolate flavours.

Mlady has been going through a tiramisu phase lately - call it a craving or uncontrollable addiction! She just doesn't seem to be able to not order it. This night was no exception.

This tiramisu was presented nicely in a jar - and a decent sized one at that. It had lovely flavours and a great chocolate sprinkle on top.

She devoured it - all of it! She would have licked the bowl if her tongue could have reached!

Mantecato Risotteria Italiana is such a charming place. It's very good authentic food with full flavours from a varied menu. Great desserts are an added bonus. It's intimate and popular so booking is advisable. Fortunately close parking is quite easy to find. This is a place well worth visiting - and others there clearly agreed.

Sir and Mlady dined as guests of Mantecato. Special thanks to Paolo and Marco for inviting us and for looking after us so well.

Mantecato on Urbanspoon