Falling for an Italian!

It’s amore! – the only way to describe my relationship with Canberra’s new Italian Dieci e Mezzo.

Not with the executive chef from Sydney’s Otto, whom I’ve never met, but with the food.

Fine-dining dishes lovingly created mostly with local produce fuels James Kidman’s passion.

The food is stunningly beautiful and the wine list impressive.

My carpaccio of cured salmon with orange, asparagus, chives and summer blossoms was breathtaking in every way. Every component was meticulously placed to form a piece of food art, including the solidified olive oil that graced the dish.

The melt-in-your mouth salmon holds a special place in my memory. Other entrées included a beetroot tart with sweet onion, creamy goat’s cheese and a funky fig saba, adding a touch of sweetness.

The beef carpaccio (specials’ list) was superb quality and decorated with micro rocket and capers, but we agreed there was a tad too much aioli drizzled on top (entrees $19 to $23).

Wow! What a start.

Four pastas are available, with the option to go entrée size or larger. The highly personable Josh Anlezark, who recently returned from Melbourne’s award-winning Ezard to become restaurant manager, recommended entrée size to leave room for dessert.

I couldn’t fault my pappardelle with tomato-braised suckling pig, Sicilian olives and marjoram ($25) – the perfect size and a superb blend of tastes.

The tortellini of Yass rabbit served with morel scented rabbit consommé and tarragon was right up there with the best ($23) and, if an aficionado, you must order the slow-cooked goat pie with mushroom, celeriac, turnip, leek and quninoa ($33).

Dieci e Mezzo will soon make changes to soften the ambiance. As an annex from the foyer of a commercial building, and on street level, it has challenges. The design is minimalist and you can feel like you are in a fish bowl.

Still, the restaurant’s striped feature wall adds a splash of colour and the curtains that have been ordered will help. And it’s a treat to be able to see the much-talked about and ever-changing light sculpture (Ossolites) in the foyer by Canberra’s Robert Foster.

Desserts are a must ($14 or $15). We shared the maple syrup, polenta and orange cake with marmalade ice cream and the decadent chocolate semi-freddo, dark chocolate sorbet and Pedro Ximenez jelly. And we topped off our evening with Affogato ($15).

Diece e mezzo’s lunch special changes weekly – two courses and a glass of wine ($39) or three courses and a glass of wine ($49). Ask about the art space/private dining room (50 guests sit down or 200 cocktail).

Diece e Mezzo, ActewAGL House, Bunda Street, Civic. Fully licensed. Breakfast weekdays from 7.30am, lunch weekdays from 11am, dinner Wednesday-Saturday from 6pm. Call 6248 3142.

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