Essenza Italian in Surry Hills, Sydney

Last Saturday night while we were in Sydney Ozdane and I went to dinner with a couple of good friends to a wonderful Italian restaurant in Surry Hills, Essenza Italian. Funnily enough it was the third Italian restaurant I had been to that week in Sydney all located on Crown Street in the suburb of Surry Hills. Strange I know and I swear it wasn’t planned that way.

Essenza was by far my favorite of the three Italian restaurants for the atmosphere, food, service, everything. This was a little birthday dinner for Ozdane with his birthday being Sunday. When I asked if he had a preference on cuisine type, the answer as I predicted, was Italian. We both love Italian food. I wanted to find somewhere with good food, nice ambiance and not stuffy or pretentious in the slightest. Essenza definitely fit the bill.

The minute you walk into the restaurant you feel welcome. You know how sometimes you walk into a restaurant and the waitstaff are rushing around like chickens with their heads cut off, nobody notices you and you just don’t feel overly welcome? Well this was the opposite feeling. Ozdane and I were a tad late, thanks to Sydney traffic and rain, so the other couple, who will be referred to as “Mr. and Mrs. M,” were already seated. We were attended to immediately and shown to our table. It had been awhile since we have caught up with Mr. and Mrs. M so we all started chatting away forgetting we actually needed to order food and even more importantly, wine! The waitress didn’t rush us at all and was happy to answer any questions we had. She was Italian as were many of the staff which I personally think says something about authenticity.

The food did not disappoint! We started out sharing green olives, arancini balls, prosciutto and sopressa salami and of course bruschetta. The boys enjoyed their beers while the girls enjoyed Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz. For our mains Mr. M and I indulged in the Prawn and Pesto Linguine with sun-dried tomatoes, chili, garlic and rocket. Mrs. M had the seafood risotto with prawns, fish, mussels and calamari and the Birthday Boy ordered the veal gnocchi special. All the dishes were phenomenal and we were all very pleased.

Even though we were quite full there was no way we were passing up on the divine dessert menu! I went for the vanilla bean and espresso gelato with Frangelico, Mrs. M had the chocolate mousse torte, Mr. M opted for the apple crumble and Ozdane had the tiramisu. I wasn’t about to let Ozdane escape his birthday dinner without a little public humiliation so I asked the waitress if they could put a candle or something on his dessert. I said they didn’t need to sing or anything like that to which her response was, “But I love to sing! I want to sing!” in her beautiful Italian accent. Who can argue with that? So I told her by all means please sing, sing away! I can’t hold a note to save my life so it worked out well for everyone she took the lead with the singing.

Suddenly the lights went very dim. Ozdane looked up trying to figure out what was going on. Knowing how his mind works he probably was wondering if it was electrical or because of the rain and he wouldn’t have guessed it was for him. Before you knew it our waitress and a few other staff appeared singing Happy Birthday to Ozdane with his tiramisu and candle in front of him. After the singing and clapping Ozdane leaned forward to blow out the candle but somehow he blew it out with his chest. Now that takes talent! Must be all the weight training he’s doing here in Singapore!

All in all it was a great dining experience with great friends! If you are in search of a good Italian restaurant in the Surry Hills area I recommend Essenza. It is located right on Crown Street and is walking distance to local bars in the area if you are keen for a before or after dinner drink. If you do end up trying it I’d love to hear about your experience!


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