Osteria di Russo & Russo
158 Enmore Rd, Enmore
02 8068 5202
Osteria di Russo & Russo is the embodiment of the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. The 1970s inspired trattoria’s interior might appear traditional but one glance at the menu reveals an innovative offering that expertly fuses traditional flavours with a contemporary approach to Italian cooking.
Marc Russo’s family, led by their father Pino, emigrated from Naples in the 1970s in a quest for better opportunities. Once settled, Pino opened his first restaurant on Crown Street, simply calling it Russo. When Marc came to opening his own place in 2013, he wanted to honour his family’s culinary heritage, and so took on a very similar moniker.
Families such as Marc’s unquestionably altered Australia’s gastronomic landscape, bringing with them new ingredients and flavours that have since been co-opted in everyday Australian cooking.
The food at Osteria di Russo & Russo, however, is far from standard Italian cuisine. Head Chef, Chris Mosley, is an honorary Italian. Born and bred in New Zealand, he brings a unique perspective to the kitchen, working with native and seasonal ingredients to produce interesting food that isn’t bound to traditional recipes.
The dishes are all designed to share, so start with a selection of small plates. Zucchini flowers are served with goat’s milk ricotta, chilli salt and lemon aspen – a native citrus from north Queensland. Meanwhile, Fremantle octopus terrine shines with a saffron and artichoke aioli, sunflower seeds and native Australian orange.
Chris is a master of texture. He builds complexity and flavour by championing individual ingredients in each dish. In the mains section of the menu, you’ll find his take on the panzanella salad, where the classic combination of tomato, stale bread and onion becomes a complex series of salty, crunchy, acidic and creamy morsels. It forms the ideal accompaniment to the roasted Rangers Valley Tri Tip beef, which is served with bread and anchovy puree, agrodolce onions, confit tomato, Australian bush tomato, caper pangratta and basil.
Chris’ play on texture carries through to the sweets. Smooth creme fraiche panna cotta is paired with smoked mulberries, candied black sesame and mulberry crostoli. Cheese buffs will be impressed by the inventive formaggio dish – Ubriaco di Barolo is served on Sardinian flatbread and accompanied by muntries, Davidson plum and native pepperberry.
When it comes to drinks, Osteria di Russo & Russo’s BYO policy means you’ll be able to bring along that fancy bottle of wine stashed in the cellar. However, Marc has also curated an impressive wine list that champions Italian varietals, working with local vineyards to showcase the best of Australian-Italian wine.
It’s this kind of communal spirit that makes Osteria di Russo & Russo such a special spot. The dining room takes heed from traditional trattorias in its design, with plenty of marble, heavy curtains and old wine bottles with years of built-up candle wax bringing a romantic ambiance to the space.
It’s no wonder diners are so drawn to Osteria di Russo & Russo. It is traditional Italian food reimagined in an Australian way, enjoyed in a space that exudes the old-world charm of the Mediterranean.