Praise the TV Gods, the Messiah is here. Well, a restaurant with his name on it is. Having fed Kimye within its first week of opening and with people still lining up down the street, does Jamie’s Italian live up to the Jamiemania that surrounds it?
Jamie’s Italian is located on the ground floor of the old Westpac Bank on the corner of King William and North Terrace. A simple yet intimidating building from the outside provides little inkling of the sprawling art deco wonderland that greets you within. The sporadic mix of tables littered over the 175-seat restaurant suit the collaborative vibe and the antipasto bar sits in the middle of the dining room with expensive looking hams and chillies hanging from its awnings. The atmosphere is warm amongst the decadent surroundings and diners stare around in wonder at the cathedral-like windows.
The staff whizz around like a litter of puppies; they are plentiful and eager to please, just bursting to tell you about the locally sourced ingredients. The crowd at the moment is mainly middle-age foodies that were in the know enough to get a booking early but with time, as the salary crowd dies down, a more varied one should take their place.
Brushcetta special: Whatever the bruschetta special is, get it, it will be amazing. On our first visit to Jamie’s, we had a smoked mozzarella & prosciutto bruschetta which was easily the highlight; and on the second we had a lemon ricotta and vodka-soaked salmon bruschetta which was unexpectedly delicious.
Table bread: Easily overlooked but always unforgettable, this table bread is $1.50 for a mix bag of bread and oil that is the perfect accompaniment to any Italian dish.
Tagliatelle Bolognese: This may appear to be a bit too easy but with pasta made in house every day, a mixture of pork and beef ragù and herby breadcrumbs this is a take on the classic that is not to be missed.
Chocolate and Espresso Tart: Rich, bitter and accompanied by Jamie’s go-to ingredient crème fraîche this dessert gives the meal a luxurious end.
Cocktails: Seriously, get a cocktail. They are affordable (around $15), different and delicious.
Jamie’s Italian is fun. It is not fine dining, but it is not meant to be. Perhaps the decadent surroundings confuse the philosophy of Jamie’s Italian and of Jamie himself. He says, of the Jamie’s Italian restaurants, that they are about “tradition and village spirit… good food for everyone”.
This is clear when looking at the menu, which includes dishes such as ‘Jools’ Favourite Sicilian Tuna Fusilli’ or ‘Curly Wurly Tomato Pasta Bake’. These dishes do not scream sophistication but they are not trying to. I think Jamie’s Italian will truly come into its own when the hype (and crowds) die down and it can be the restaurant it sets itself out to be: a place that you can bring your family and friends, any night of the week and know that you will have a good experience. The focus on quality ingredients and simple, Italian cooking shines through especially well with the antipasto and bruschetta options.
When to go
Honestly, go at lunch. Firstly, it is much more likely that you will get a table as only around 40% are reserved for bookings, so if you go around 11:30-12:00 it will be easy to get in. Secondly, the soaring windows let in an abundance of natural light in the day and the staff seem more relaxed than at dinner. It is also the perfect excuse for an elongated lunch break and with the added possibility of day drinking, is there anything better?
Bathroom bonus: Jamie’s Italian has got to be home to one of the most unique restaurant bathrooms in the city. The old bank vaults in the basement have been converted into the toilets and there is even a powder room amongst the jail-like bars.
Where: 2 King William St, Adelaide
Price: $$ Not too bad. Pasta $15-$20, mains $20-$30, desserts $8-$10
Rating: 4 out of 5 mamma mias