We went for a long walk on our Sunday evening in Sydney to try and find somewhere to eat, but didn’t really know what sort of food we felt like (I felt like something asian, L felt like Italian). We walked the entire length of Darling Harbour, noted Criniti’s Ristorante with some interest, then walked all the way down to Chinatown before giving up and going all the way back to Criniti’s.
One thing we definitely noted about all of the restaurants in the harbour was the elevated prices. I don’t know if this is a Sydney thing, or if its just because Darling Harbour is quite touristy and you are paying for this and the location/views.
Getting into the restaurant was not without some difficulty however. We walked up the stairs from the harbourside area and then didn’t really know where to go… no one greeted us, there was no obvious ‘wait here and be seated’ sign. Finally we flagged down a waiter and he told us to go to the area at the back of the restaurant to wait to be seated…… this is when we finally noticed that the real entrance to the restaurant is from the Harbourside shopping centre. Duhhhh! I really think that if they are going to have stairs and an entrance from down in the harbour, then they need to address this…
There were a lot of empty but reserved tables that we’d walked past, we were told that there was only one table for two available… whoops we’d underestimated how popular this place was and probably should have booked. We were escorted to our booth and presented with a menu.
WOW! The size of the menu was ridiculously large. This either can be viewed as a good thing or a bad thing. I don’t know about you, but I HATE being presented with too many choices. It took us a good 15 minutes to decide on what to eat and even then I don’t think I read even half of the menu. I also wondered how they kept up with all the different meal choices in the kitchen, it just seemed like they’d made more hard work for themselves. I was now getting a bit dubious about the restaurant, was it just a big gimmick or were we actually going to get some good Italian food?
|a quarter of the menu!|
|the bar area|
We ordered Mamma’s bruschetta (bread with cherry tomatoes, buffalo cheese and red onion – $12.90) to start, followed by Spaghetti marinara with chilli for L ($29.90) and veal saltimbocca ($34.90) for me. We also ordered a bottle of Baby doll sauvignon blanc to share ($36). They have a large cocktail list and if you have a group of people you can order massive cocktails in novelty buckets/bowls to share between 2-4 people.
The waiters/waitresses are also all carrying around an electronic ordering system and garbed in a massive headset, which I found to be impersonal and distracting. I hate those things!
Our bruschetta came out and it was thankfully delicious. I love massive slices of buffalo mozzarella, and I could have easily polished it all off myself, but begrudgingly let L have his slice.
Our main meals came out again without delay, but not too quickly either (I hate when you JUST finish your entree to only be immediately presented with your main).
The mains were to their credit, delicious! My veal was lemony and moist and topped with slices of garlic and came with grilled eggplant, zucchini and capsicum and some roast potatoes. I am actually salivating thinking about it now.
L’s serving of Spaghetti marinara was large, and not too stingy on the seafood either. He thoroughly enjoyed it.
We passed on dessert and called for the bill. We noticed that the table next to us had ordered some MASSIVE ribs, they were huge!! (definitely beats the ribs at Smoke BBQ in Brisbane – see my review on those).
Unfortunately, when the bill came we discovered we had been slugged a Sunday surcharge. You are kidding right?? Surely with the size of the restaurant and the sheer number of patrons they have through there, they could absorb the costs of paying their staff more on a Sunday. I have never heard of a Sunday surcharge before? This left a bit of a sour taste sitting with me.
The food at Criniti’s was of good quality and the restaurant has a great atmosphere, appearing to be popular with large groups. The choices on the menu are enormous, and I feel you’d have some difficulty deciding on what to eat! They are also open for lunch, and for breakfast on the weekends.